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Research Letter
July 29, 2019

Trends in Cough and Cold Medicine Recommendations for Children in the United States, 2002-2015

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, New Jersey
  • 2Rutgers Center for Pharmacoepidemiology and Treatment Science, Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research, New Brunswick, New Jersey
  • 3Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Rutgers School of Public Health, Piscataway, New Jersey
  • 4Department of Pharmacy Practice and Administration, Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, Rutgers University, Piscataway, New Jersey
  • 5Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences, Newark, New Jersey
  • 6Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
JAMA Pediatr. 2019;173(9):885-887. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2019.2252

Respiratory infections are extremely common pediatric illnesses, and families frequently treat children with cough and cold medicines (CCM). In 2008, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that children younger than 2 years not use over-the-counter (OTC) CCM given concerns about efficacy and safety.1 Soon thereafter, manufacturers voluntarily relabeled CCM for children 4 years and older,1 and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended avoiding CCM in children younger than 6 years. Subsequent national US utilization studies through 2010 showed equivocal effects on pediatric CCM use.2,3 We studied trends over a broader timeframe in physicians’ recommendations for CCM and, for comparison, antihistamines in the US pediatric population.