Dosing the Diaper Set

By Dirk Hanson 04/06/11

61% of parents give their sick toddlers OTC cough and cold remedies despite a health warning from the FDA strongly condemning the practice.

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Eager infant gets her Robitussin on.
Photo via thinkstockphotos

Not long ago, parents treated ill infants with a teaspoon of scotch or brandy. These days, 61% of parents with children between six months and two years of age treat their sick their toddlers over-the-counter cough and cold remedies, ignoring a 2008 health warning from the FDA strongly condemning the practice. According to a recent poll conducted by the University of Michigan Health System, and reported by Ed Silverman at, one of the researchers said: “We’re not blaming parents. But for over-the-counter medications that are not recommended, 61 percent is rather high.” A single clearinghouse for this kind of information would help greatly, the researcher suggested. However, Silverman reports that some parents have objected, claiming that tiny snifters of Dimetapp and Robitussin are so effective for draining little ears and chests that they eliminate the need for costly visits to the ER.

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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]