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Evidence-Based Journal Club
December 2007

The Effect of Honey on Nocturnal Cough and Sleep Quality for Children and Their Parents

Author Affiliations


Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007;161(12):1149-1153. doi:10.1001/archpedi.161.12.1149

Cough is a common symptom in pediatric practice and can be particularly troubling to children and their parents, resulting in discomfort, loss of sleep, and missed schooldays and workdays. Caregivers frequently administer over-the-counter (OTC) medications to their children in an attempt to treat cough. Apart from the costs associated with such medications, some OTC medications have unwelcome and potentially dangerous adverse effects. Dextromethorphan, an opiate-derived antitussive commonly found in OTC cough and cold preparations, is generally safe but on rare occasions can be associated with adverse effects such as dystonia, ataxia, lethargy, and even death.1,2 Furthermore, several studies3,4 have shown that dextromethorphan is not more effective than placebo at reducing cough symptoms. The American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement on the use of codeine- and dextromethorphan-containing cough remedies in children states that indications for the use of narcotics or dextromethorphan as antitussives in children have not been established given the lack of data for efficacy and the potential for adverse effects.5 The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that physicians talk with parents about the risk associated with these drugs as well as the lack of data on the efficacy of codeine and dextromethorphan as antitussives.