Pseudoephedrine use common among young children

Dec 01, 2008

Researchers from Boston University's Slone Epidemiology Center have found that exposure to pseudoephedrine, a decongestant found in many cough-and-cold and allergy medications, has been common among U.S. children, especially those under the age of two years who are at the highest risk for toxicity and for whom safe dosing recommendations are lacking. These findings appear in the December issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Pseudoephedrine has been associated with deaths and adverse events in young children. However, the absolute risks of pediatric pseudoephedrine use are difficult to determine because the number of children exposed to this medication and typical patterns of use are unknown. In addition, use may be changing because of the Combat Methamphetamine Act of 2005, a law which limited availability of pseudoephedrine-containing products.

To define the frequency and patterns of use, the researchers analyzed data from 1999 through 2006 on pseudoephedrine use among 4,267 children, aged 0 to 17 years, who were enrolled in the Slone Survey, a national random-digit-dial telephone survey of medication use in the U.S.

The researchers found 4.9 percent of children took pseudoephedrine in a given week. Use was highest in children under two years of age (8.1 percent). Sixteen children (7.5 percent of users) took more than one pseudoephedrine-containing product within the same week, including six children under two years old. Of the pseudoephedrine products used, most were multiple-ingredient liquids (58.9 percent) and multiple-ingredient tablets (24.7 percent). Fifty-two subjects (25 percent of users) took pseudoephedrine for longer than one week, including seven children under two years of age. Perhaps reflecting reduced availability, use in 2006 (2.9 percent) was significantly lower than in 1999-2005 (5.2 percent).

Concerning patterns of use identified in the study include taking more than one pseudoephedrine-containing product at the same time and using pseudoephedrine for long periods of time. Pediatric pseudoephedrine use appears to be declining since the institution of the 2005 Combat Methamphetamine Act. "Pseudoephedrine exposure, mostly in the form of multiple-ingredient products, is common among U.S. children and needs to be monitored closely because of the potential for this medication to cause harm, particularly to children under two" said lead author Louis Vernacchio, MD, MSc, an assistant professor of epidemiology and pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine.

Source: Boston University

Explore further: New Dominican law OKs abortion if life at risk

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Officials: 'Bath salts' are growing drug problem

Jan 23, 2011

(AP) -- When Neil Brown got high on dangerous chemicals sold as bath salts, he took his skinning knife and slit his face and stomach repeatedly. Brown survived, but authorities say others haven't been so ...

Recommended for you

The hunt for botanicals

Dec 19, 2014

Herbal medicine can be a double-edged sword and should be more rigorously investigated for both its beneficial and harmful effects, say researchers writing in a special supplement of Science.

Mozambique decriminalises abortion to stem maternal deaths

Dec 19, 2014

Mozambique has passed a law permitting women to terminate unwanted pregnancies under specified conditions, a move hailed by activists in a country where clandestine abortions account for a large number of maternal deaths.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.