There has been a stirring controversy over parents and/or guardians overdosing infants with cough, cold, and decongestant products. Many have been recalled by manufacturers. I have fielded several questions from concerned parents that these medications are deadly. I assure them when used at the appropriate dose for the child's weight under a doctor's order there have been no problems. The main problems occur when dosing is guessed at or an inappropriate formulation (adult strength or something designed for 6 to 12 year old) has been used.
Things all parents/guardians should know about infants and medication:
1. Their organs are not fully functional or resistant to the effects of chemicals like an adult.
2. Their brains and nerve systems are still developing.
3. A major cause of diarrhea in infants is high sugar fruit juices. Many of these juices also contribute to cavities when children start to get their "baby" teeth by wearing down enamel with natural fruit acids. All things in moderation.
4. Gatorade it NOT formulated for an infant. Pedialyte IS. Too many times a patient tells me they were giving an infant Gatorade but the diarrhea won't stop. Duh, Gatorade is full of sugar and high concentrations of electrolytes. It was designed for fully grown athletes. Give them Pedialyte. If the diarrhea has been going on for more than a day call your pediatrician or go to the ER. Maybe your infant will survive your inherent lack of common sense.
5. Tablet formulations are not meant to be broken into pieces to give to an infant. Liquid formulations developed and dosed for an infant are. I had a woman who wanted to give an infant an Imodium tablet because every time she used the liquid the infant ended up in the hospital because she got diarrhea from the sugar in the liquid. I explained to her that there was no way a 2mg tablet could be broken into a 0.4mg dose. She would be poisoning her child. She reluctantly took the liquid PRESCRIBED BY HER PEDIATRICIAN.
6. Smoking during pregnancy and exposure to smoke, mold, mildew, and vermin after birth increases the frequency and intensity of asthma and allergy attacks, even if a child is on medication treating these conditions. This breaks down to basic cleanliness of the home environment. It is not that hard and there are many cleaning products recommended for use in homes with small children.
7. Child safety packaging does not mean that it is 100% child proof. You still need to put locking mechanisms on cabinets with cleaning products and medications in them. This also applies to pets. Several cases of pet death occur in dogs that ate a bottle of medication that was left sitting on a counter or nightstand. Many of these cabinet "locks" are merely a piece of plastic that latches so that the cabinet cannot be opened more than a couple of inches. They are cheap and can prevent a lot of calls to 911.
Come on people.........this is getting ridiculous. Perhaps a part of every high schooler's education needs to be on home safety and basic pet and child care. Even better, instead of having an occasional assembly to discuss not putting things in your mouth that appear to be candy with young children, it should be part of every curriculum. Start young and educate children to keep themselves out of every day dangers. There are more dangerous things out there than pedophiles and many can be found in your own home.