Pediatricians warn against prescribing codeine for kids

Pediatricians are alerting parents that kids might not need the strong medication.

There are new warnings about kids and codeine. The American Academy of Pediatrics is now saying to avoid it altogether because of reports of dangerous side effects and even deaths.
 
Dana Pancoast has seen her share of coughs, bumps and bruises.  You would expect as much with two energetic boys, just 7 and 8 years old.  But she has always avoided codeine, mainly because she is allergic to it.  "I just tell every doctor and every hospital and everywhere they've ever gone that there is a possibility of a codeine allergy and I have them put in the records that the boys are never to be given codeine."
 
Even when her 7-year-old broke his collarbone a few years ago, she chose not to use the stronger painkiller.  "And he didn't need it. I gave him children's ibuprofen and that was it and he was fine."
 
"In general, we haven't been using it in pediatric offices for quite some time because we knew they were dangerous."  Dr. Rachel Dawkins is the medical director of the General Pediatrics Clinic at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital.  She says codeine is prescribed not only for pain, but as an ingredient in cough medicines.  "They don't really work for cough, they can make you sleepy, so sometimes that helps families when their child's coughing, they just want them to be able to sleep comfortably, so that can sometimes happen."
 
There are several ways to relieve a cough without turning to medicine. In the bathroom, turn on the shower as hot as it will go, then shut all the doors and let it steam up.  If that doesn't work, then head for the kitchen and reach for the honey, a spoon full of that can help coat your throat.  If you still need relief, cold air can help and since we don't have a lot of that in Florida, head to the freezer. Just stick your head in and breathe in the cold air. 
 
Dawkins says codeine isn't widely prescribed for kids, but it does happen, so parents need to make sure they ask questions.  "Most of the time, these kids don't need these heavy duty pain medications."
 
Pancoast agrees and tries to avoid medicines altogether with homeopathic methods.  "I think you try that first. That's what I've always done."
 
Interesting to note that the pharmacy at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital doesn't even carry codeine in stock, since it is so rarely prescribed for kids.
 


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