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October 5, 1994

Rational Use of Over-the-counter Medications in Young Children

Author Affiliations

From the Division of General Pediatrics, University of Maryland, Baltimore. Dr Gadomski is now with the Department of Pediatrics and the Research Institute, the Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital, Cooperstown, NY.

JAMA. 1994;272(13):1063-1064. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520130101040

The study by Kogan et al1 in this issue of The Journal documents the high nationwide prevalence of over-the-counter (OTC) drug use among young children. More than half of all mothers surveyed in this nationally representative sample had given their 3-year-olds an OTC medication, primarily Tylenol or cough or cold medicines, in the past 30 days. Given the high incidence of febrile illnesses and upper respiratory tract infections in young children, the frequency of Tylenol and cough or cold medication use is not surprising. However, we have no assurances that these medications are used correctly. Moreover, the use of cough and cold medicines is increasingly being called into question due to the striking absence of efficacy data on cough and cold medicines in children.2 The efficacy of cough and cold medications was the focus of a recent congressional hearing,3 during which the chairman commented: "The sad fact

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