2007 Departures: Cough and cold syrup for infants


I'd always thought the irony was both diabolical and hilarious: products marketed as "infant" medicines included no instructions for children under the age of two, instead suggesting that the worried parent consult his physician. When my first son was a baby, I met those warnings with fear and called my pediatrician's patient advice nurse every time; for baby number two I felt seasoned enough to administer cough syrup without a phone call, having deduced that there was no difference in the "infant" and "child" medicines other than the size of the dropper and the price per ounce.

But for baby number three, now not-quite-six-months old, my remedy for coughs and colds is simple: lots of cuddles. Not only has the FDA recommended against giving cough and cold syrup to children under the age of six; but pediatricians say the remedies don't really work. To be "abundantly cautious," manufacturers of infant cold remedies pulled them from shelves in October 2007.

Of course, it's not exactly true that you can't buy cough syrup for your baby any more; after all, the products marketed to children and adults typically have the same makeup as the ones marketed to infants, and if the FDA is refusing to allow the manufacturers to recommend a dose, it's just as sensible to not recommend a dose on a larger, less expensive bottle of children's cough syrup. Whether or not you can get the stuff, though, is probably beside the point; doctors everywhere are seeking to convince us that, as much as we may wish to ease our child's suffering (and put and end to the wailing), time is the best healer.

Take a deep breath and brew another pot of coffee, parents everywhere, it's going to be a long winter.

This post was written as part of a series on on 2007 departures. Read about more products, companies and people you won't see in 2008.