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Health Canada Considers Sweeping Ban On Junk Food Ads Aimed At Children And Teens

Government is also revising the Canada Food Guide to include foods that should be avoided altogether

The junk food advertising ban for everyone under the age of 17 would cover most cheeses and foods that are high in fat and salt such as chips, frozen waffles, fruit juice and even granola bars.

Health Canada is considering a widespread ban on the marketing of unhealthy food to kids under the age of 17. It could cover everything from TV, online and print advertising to product labelling, in-store displays and even end some sponsorships for sports teams.

The federal government announced the first step in St. John’s this morning by launching public consultations on how foods are marketed to kids in Canada.

“Most of the foods that are marketed to kids are these ones that are high in fat, high in sugar, high in sodium, so that’s what we’re looking at,” said Hasan Hutchinson, director general at Health Canada, who is overseeing the consultations.
“That would then cut out all of the things like, of course, your regular soda, most cookies, cakes, pies, puddings, ice cream, most cheeses because they are high in fat, they’re high in salt,” he said.

Health Canada would also target foods such as sugar-sweetened yogurt, frozen waffles, fruit juice, granola bars and potato chips.

The federal government looked at the Quebec ban on advertising to children, which has been in place since 1980.

In that province, companies can’t market unhealthy food to children under 13 years old. But Health Canada wants to go further, banning marketing to any person under 17.

“We know of course that children under 13 are particularly impressionable. But we feel that evidence is showing that teens [in the] 13- to 17-year-old age group are equally a vulnerable group,” Hutchinson said.

He points to the fact that many young teens have their own income for the first time, and are not as closely supervised by their parents.

Targeting high caffeine drinks

It is an argument Senator Nancy Greene Raine supports.

The Conservative senator introduced a private member’s bill last November that would have banned junk food advertising to children under 13.

But in her first appearance before the Senate committee studying her bill earlier this month, Greene Raine told senators she will be amending her bill to raise the age once it goes for clause-by-clause consideration.

‘Red Bull. Rockstar. These highly caffeinated soft drinks are working on the adolescents…but targetting them is really unhealthy,’
– Nancy Green Raine, Senator

“Some products that are being marketed to teenagers are, in my mind, very harmful. Red Bull. Rockstar. These highly caffeinated soft drinks are working on the adolescents — they like those products. But targeting them is really unhealthy,” Greene Raine said.

And she worries bad food choices made as teenagers lead to bad food choices in adulthood.

“A predilection to choosing foods high in sugar, salt, and fat as teenagers, can result in poor food choices for the rest of their lives,” said Greene Raine. “It’s recognized as one of the precursors to becoming overweight and obese, leading to all kinds of other chronic diseases.”

Sports teams

As part of the consultations, Health Canada is asking the public if the advertising ban should extend to sponsorships of sports teams.

Hutchinson said this is one area he thinks there could be some pushback from parents, who may believe sponsorships are critical for small sports teams to operate.

“They’re advertising because it has an effect. There’s a reason why they’re putting money into those sorts of programs,” Hutchinson said.

Greene Raine said she understands the link between sponsorships and sports — the senator won gold and silver medals for skiing at the 1968 Olympics, later becoming a spokesperson for Mars bars.

Still, Raine believes there should be some kind of limit on sponsorship of sports teams by companies that sell junk food.

“When you see things like: ‘wear your team jersey and come to our fast food outlet and we’ll give you a free slushie,’ that crosses the line,” Raine said.

Revising the Canada Food Guide

Health Canada is also launching a second round of consultations on the revised Canada Food Guide.

There were nearly 20,000 submissions in the first round of consultations in the fall of 2016, including 14,000 from the public.

The guide lists the foods Canadians should use as the foundation of a good diet, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

But for the first time, Health Canada is also listing the foods that should be avoided outright.

“What we’ve done is a special case on avoidance of processed or prepared beverages that are high in sugars, because based on our evidence reviews, we think we’ve got enough evidence to be as strong as that. We’ve never said anything quite that strong,” said Hutchinson.

On the naughty list: soft drinks, fruit-flavoured drinks including water, energy drinks and flavoured milks.

Susan Lunn · CBC News   June 10, 2017
source: www.cbc.ca


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Busy Schedules are Putting Children’s Health at Risk

‘Worry and busyness and stress is robbing children of their peace of mind,’ says child therapist

According to child and family therapist Michele Kambolis, children are vulnerable to anxiety and stress preventing them from getting a good night’s sleep.

Busy schedules, too many worries and a lack of sleep could be threatening the health of your children, one expert is warning parents.

Vancouver-based child and family therapist Michele Kambolis says she often hears from children who say they are working with tutors or doing homework late into the night.

“Worry and busyness and stress is robbing children of their peace of mind,” she says.

But getting enough sleep is crucial to a child’s development, Kambolis says.

“It’s a non-negotiable part of their health. Children who are sleep-deprived are at risk for a whole host of problems including difficulties at school.”

Cultural attitudes to sleep play a big role, she notes.

“We seem to live in a culture that doesn’t value sleep in the way that it should,” she says.
“Our lifestyles are more hurried and more worried and a lot of busy, busy activity is falling into the time of day when children really need brain rest.
“We’re focusing on high productivity and we know that children match us. They match our choice and our behaviour.
“It’s really important to create a clear delineation between the busyness of the day and nighttime when children can wind down, lean into our care and talk about whatever worries have arisen throughout the day.”

(Natalie Holdway/CBC)

Some of her tips include:

  • Cut back on children’s screen time an hour and a half before bed.
  • If nighttime wetting is a problem, help keep kids dry by using absorbent bedtime pants.
  • Address dietary issues. Caffeine and sugar late in the day makes it very difficult for kids to sleep at night.
  • Practice ways to calm the mind and body in order to facilitate sleep.
  • Communicate with teachers, day care providers or other caregivers about how the child is functioning through the day to see if a lack of sleep is causing concern.

 

CBC News      Posted: May 17, 2017 
source; www.cbc.ca


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Sleep Apnea in Children Tied to Changes in Brain

In children with a common condition that causes them to periodically stop breathing during sleep, areas of the brain involved with thinking and problem-solving appear to be smaller than in children who sleep normally, a study finds.

Researchers can’t say the brain changes actually cause problems for children at home or school, but they do say the condition, known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), has been tied to behavior and cognitive problems.

“It really does seem that there is a change in the brain or that the brain is affected,” said study author Paul Macey, who is director of technology and innovation at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Nursing.

Macey and colleagues write in Scientific Reports that up to 5 percent of all children are affected by OSA. The condition causes the child’s airway to become blocked, which ultimately causes the brain to go without oxygen for short periods of time and may wake the child up.

Previous studies on lab animals and adults with OSA have shown changes in the brain due to nerve cells dying, they add.

For the new study, the researchers used magnetic resonance imaging to analyze the volume of children’s gray matter, which is the outermost layer of the brain that allows for higher levels of functioning like problem solving.

They compared brain scans from 16 children with OSA and 200 children without the condition. All the youngsters were between 7 and 11 years old.

Overall, children with OSA had decreases in gray matter volume in areas of the brain important for controlling cognition and mood, compared to the other children.

Macey, who is also affiliated with the UCLA Brain Research Institute, said it’s unclear how closely changes in the brain are connected to behavior, cognition and other issues.

“We know these two things are happening, but we’re not sure how much the reduced gray matter tracks with poor scores,” he told Reuters Health.

The researchers also can’t say exactly why OSA is tied to reduce gray matter volume among children. A lack of oxygen may kill off brain cells or it may stop the brain from properly developing, for example.

Macey’s team wants to see whether treating the condition helps children get back on track with their healthy peers.

“If we did that we would know better how people recover from it or not,” he said.

Dr. Eliot Katz, of Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, said previous research shows treating OSA by removing tonsils and adenoids improves children’s school performance, behavior and sleep-related issues. Evidence is mixed on whether it improves cognition.

Katz, who wasn’t involved with the new study, said the previous research on problems faced by children with OSA – like behavior and cognition – is fitting nicely with the brain imaging studies.

“This is really the first large, really well controlled study that has found decrements in gray matter in children with obstructive sleep apnea,” he told Reuters Health.

He said parents should discuss symptoms of OSA with children’s healthcare providers. Those symptoms include chronic snoring and gaps in breathing while they sleep.

“Sleep complaints are often not addressed in well child care visits,” he said, or in training programs for pediatricians.

He advises parents to “take a brief phone video of the breathing pattern that’s concerning to them and show it to their pediatrician.”

Macey said daytime tiredness and mood issues can also be symptoms of OSA. Children who are overweight and obese are at higher risk for the condition.

By Andrew M. Seaman (Reuters Health) 
 
source:    bit.ly/2mY9IFX        Scientific Reports, online March 17, 2017.        www.reuters.com


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Does TV Hinder Kindergarten-Readiness?

Lower-income kids harmed more by excess screen time than affluent children, study finds

One big factor holding kids back as they enter kindergarten may sit in the family living room: the television.

New research suggests that youngsters who watch a lot of TV – or other screens – are less ready for school than those who don’t.

“Given that studies have reported that children often watch more than the recommended amount, and the current prevalence of technology such as smartphones and tablets, engaging in screen time may be more frequent now than ever before,” lead author Andrew Ribner said in a New York University news release. He’s a doctoral candidate in NYU’s department of applied psychology.

In the new study, Ribner’s team tracked the school-readiness of 800-plus kindergarten students, testing their thinking, memory, social-emotional, math and literacy skills.

kids-watching-tv

Watching TV for more than a couple of hours a day was associated with lower skills, according to the study. The finding was especially strong among low-income children.

The researchers suggest that parents limit children’s TV time to less than two hours a day. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends less than an hour a day of TV viewing for children aged 2 to 5.

Ribner’s group couldn’t say why poorer children seemed harmed more than richer kids by excess TV time. However, the researchers noted that earlier studies have found that kids in higher-income homes watch more educational programming and less entertainment. Affluent parents may also have more time to watch TV with their children, discussing and helping them understand what they’re viewing.

“Our results suggest that the circumstances that surround child screen time can influence its detrimental effects on learning outcomes,” said study co-author Caroline Fitzpatrick, of the University of Sainte-Anne in Canada.

The study was published March 1 in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.

By Robert Preidt      HealthDay Reporter    WebMD News from HealthDay
WEDNESDAY, March 1, 2017 (HealthDay News)
source:     New York University, news release, March 1, 2017      www.webmd.com


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Added sugar often found in Canadian products marketed as ‘healthy,’ researchers find

Why ‘you really need to be a detective’ when reading food labels

Two-thirds of food and beverages tested by a group of Ontario researchers, including baby foods and products marketed as healthy, were found to contain added sugar.

The researchers, from Public Health Ontario and the University of Waterloo, examined the ingredients of 40,829 products sold in March 2015 at a national grocery retailer.

In a study published in Thursday’s issue of CMAJ Open, Erin Hobin and her team searched for 30 different added sugar terms, ranging from sugar to dextrose, high-fructose corn syrup, glucose, fructose and fruit juice concentrate.

Dietitians say added sugars are a concern because they tend to be consumed in much larger quantities than naturally occurring sugars found in foods such as bananas or milk.

Added sugars are a sign of more food processing, which has health implications, including weight gain and high blood pressure. The World Health Organization and Heart & Stroke now recommend that people limit their sugar intake to no more than 10 per cent of overall calories, or about 12 teaspoons a day

“It definitely is tricky,” Hobin said in an interview. “You definitely need to know what you are looking for when you are scanning the ingredients list, and you really need to be a detective and take your time.”

Added sugars are defined as all sugars added to foods by the manufacturer plus the sugars naturally present in honey, syrups and fruit juices.

Examples of names for sugar include fruit juice concentrate, dextrose and high-fructose corn syrup. For more, see “Sugar’s on the food label, but …”

 

Products you might suspect contain the most added sugar, such as candy or chocolate, showed the highest sugar content.

per-cent-of-products-tested-with-added-sugar

Fruit juice processing

“What we also found was that some of the products that are marketed as healthy also frequently contain added sugar. So that included breakfast cereals, granola bars and a lot of fruit juices,” Hobin said.

Sarah Nowak of Toronto is the mother of three girls, ages six, three and 18 months.

“These, I thought, were just dried fruit,” Nowak said as she examined the front of one box. “Once again, where are the ingredients? Apple puree, concentrated juices, more juices, blueberry juice, carrot juice.”

When whole fruits and vegetables are processed, nutrients are stripped away, Hobin explained.

“You are just left with the fruit juice concentrate that is used as a sweetener, so it is put back into products to sweeten up the product.”

Almost half of all infant formulas and baby food studied also listed added sugars as part of their ingredients.

Nowak said she wished the labels were more transparent. “It makes me feel a little bit duped,” she said.

The researchers suspected a large proportion of products on grocery store shelves contained added sugar, but there was little empirical data. Now, they have a snapshot.

Some evidence suggests that if you feed sugary food to young children, then their palate adjusts, and they grow more attracted to that in the future, said Bill Jeffery, executive director of the Centre for Health Science and Law in Ottawa. “It may be cultivating a lifelong market.”

If food labels indicated products weren’t very healthful, then sales would decline.

“They have a strong vested interest in making sure that the nutrition labeling is as useless as possible, to be candid,” Jeffery said. 

In December, Health Canada announced changes related to the list of ingredients and nutrition facts table — the information boxes on the back of food products.

The federal government won’t require labelling of added sugars.

Group added sugars together

Asked why, a departmental spokeswoman said, “Added sugars are ingredients that manufacturers add to their products and that must be declared in the list of ingredients.
“The Nutrition Facts table declares the amount of nutrients, rather than ingredients. On the Canadian Nutrition Facts table, the amount of added sugars in the food is included in the amount of total sugars, which is consistent with the approach to all other nutrients. Laboratory tests cannot distinguish between naturally occurring and added sugars.”

Health Canada is requiring manufacturers to group all added sugars together in the ingredients list.

Food & Consumer Products of Canada, an industry association, did not immediately respond to requests for comment from CBC News.

The analysis did not include fresh fruits or vegetables, fresh meat, raw ingredients (water, baking ingredients, coffee, tea, fats and oils, etc.) and non-food items (such as natural health products or nutrition and protein supplements).

CBC News      Jan 12, 2017  
source: www.cbc.ca


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Experts Now Recommend Introducing Peanuts To Babies At High Risk Of Allergies

Withholding the nuts may actually contribute 
to the deadly allergy, a national panel concludes.

For millions of children who have peanut allergies, mealtimes can be deadly. And for years, doctors have advised parents to keep peanut products away from children thought to be at high risk.

But new guidelines issued Thursday state that infants should be introduced to peanut products as early as 4 months old if they appear to be at high risk of developing food allergies.

A panel of experts convened by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says that introducing peanuts early in life can actually help prevent the development of peanut allergies.

The new recommendations encourage parents to prevent food allergies by following a schedule of early introduction of certain allergenic foods, explained Dr. Hugh Sampson, director of the Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and a member of the NIAID panel. The NIAID’s 2010 guidelines had stated only that that there was no sufficient data to support the withholding of allergenic foods in order to prevent allergies.

“The big difference with these guidelines is that they’re not saying there is no reason not to give it. It’s now saying give it,” said Sampson. “So this is a proactive statement, as opposed to a more passive [approach].”

Severe peanut allergies can cause anaphylaxis, in which the throat swells, constricting breathing. People with less severe peanut allergies can experience wheezing, shortness of breath, digestive problems, skin rashes or hives in the mouth and throat.

How to introduce peanut products to babies

If a baby has severe eczema, an egg allergy or both, these conditions increase the risk of a peanut allergy. For these high-risk infants, peanut product introduction should take place from 4 to 6 months of age — not with whole peanuts, which can be a choking hazard, but perhaps with diluted peanut butter.

Babies with mild to moderate eczema but no egg allergy should start being introduced to peanut products at 6 months if this fits in with the family’s normal diet. In other words, parents shouldn’t feel compelled to introduce peanuts at this age.

The guidelines state that for both of these high-risk scenarios, parents should see if babies are developmentally ready to eat solid foods by introducing something else first. Then, when babies show confidence in eating solid foods, parents should check with the pediatrician first before introducing a peanut food. A pediatrician may suggest testing for peanut allergies before the first introduction or may have specific instructions for the introduction. A baby’s first taste of peanut can even take place at the doctor’s office.

If the baby shows no sign of eczema or egg allergy and thus appears to be at no heightened risk of developing a peanut allergy, peanut products should be incorporated into their diet in keeping with the family’s normal dietary preferences, in an age-appropriate way.

baby
Introducing babies as young as 4 months to peanut products
could prevent development of peanut allergies.

Compelling data prompted the change

The recommendations are based on an NIAID-funded, five-year clinical trial called Learning Early About Peanut Allergy, or LEAP. The trial randomly divided more than 600 infants into two groups: a control group that avoided eating peanut products until they were 5 years old and an experimental group that was introduced to peanut foods early in life on a regular basis. Scientists found that eating peanuts early in life was safe and reduced the risk of developing a peanut allergy by 81 percent compared with the control group.

“The data was so compelling on the preventive effect of early introduction that it was felt that the guidelines needed to be revised,” said Sampson of the LEAP study results.

Childhood peanut allergies in the U.S. have increased dramatically over the last decade: In 1997, 0.4 percent of children reported an allergy to peanuts, and by 2008 that number was 1.4 percent, or more than 3 million people.

To reduce the number of people with peanut allergies, Dr. Sujan Patel, an allergist immunologist at New York University Langone Medical Center, has been advising parents to introduce allergenic foods early to their children for several years now. He says he is glad that the guidelines have caught up with the practice, common among immunologists.

Allergies to peanuts and other foods could have risen because parents were introducing certain foods to their children later, because of official guidance or perhaps out of fear of triggering a life-threatening allergic reaction, Patel explained. But the results of the LEAP study, published in 2015, show that this approach may actually be setting the stage for severe food allergies in the future.

“We’re trying to combat the development of peanut allergy with early introduction, based on these studies,” said Patel, who was not involved in the creation of the new guidelines. “With the overall increase of prevalence of food allergies, I feel that a lot of parents are now nervous to introduce highly allergenic foods at a young age because they feel like the child might be in danger.”

Other factors that may have contributed to the rise in food allergies include outdated advice from family doctors and pediatricians, or perhaps a reluctance to introduce any solid food at all before 6 months, in favor of exclusive breastfeeding.

Patel and Sampson hope that the new recommendations will stem the increase of peanut allergies in children.

“We’re looking to reduce the prevalence of peanut allergy among the population,” said Patel.

For instructions on how to introduce peanut products to your child, check out this video produced by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

 01/05/2017       Anna Almendrala        Senior Healthy Living Editor, The Huffington Post


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Why Kids Younger Than 12 Don’t Need OTC Cough And Cold Remedies

The common cold season is here, and if you have children, you will likely feel their suffering from these annoying upper respiratory tract viral infections. Children experience more colds, about six to 10 annually, than adults. With each cold producing symptoms of nasal congestion, runny nose, cough and mild fever lasting up to seven to 10 days, it may seem that children are nearly continuously sick.

Parents certainly want their ill children to feel better, and they, naturally, want to help. A frequent solution is over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, which are heavily advertised to treat many maladies, including colds. A stroll down your local pharmacy OTC drug aisle will highlight the numerous OTC drug products available for adults and children.

It is tempting to buy one or more of these products to help your child. However, for children younger than 12 years of age, it is best not to use commonly advertised OTC cough and cold drug products. These products lack supportive clinical study efficacy and safety data, an issue I’ve studied as a professor of pharmacy practice.

Children are not just small adults

When treating children with OTC or prescription drugs, it is important to understand that young children differ significantly from the adult population with respect to drug efficacy and adverse effects.

Over the past 30 years, we have learned much more about pediatric pharmacology and drug action and behavior, known as pharmacokinetics, and differences compared to adults. Prior to this, and even today to some extent, health care professionals assumed that drugs functioned and behaved similarly in children as in adults.

Based on this assumption, health practitioners often only reduced the amount of a drug to a child based on a proportion of the child’s body weight to an adult. For example, a provider would prescribe 50 percent of an adult drug dose for a child with 50 percent body weight of an adult. The efficacy of OTC cough and cold product active ingredient, as demonstrated in adult studies, was assumed to be similar in children.

However, we have learned, and are continuing to learn, that this strategy is not accurate and can be dangerous. Most drugs are not specifically studied and evaluated in children prior to their labeling by the FDA and availability to the public.

A safe and effective drug dose and dose schedule (how often a drug dose is given) is derived from these formal studies and evaluations. But without these formal studies, pediatric-specific drug pharmacology is not accurately evaluated and determined. In addition, a physician can legally prescribe any drug for a child, even if there aren’t data supporting its efficacy and safety in children.

OTC drugs regulated differently than Rx drugs

FDA regulation of OTC drug products differs from prescription drug regulation. Active ingredients in OTC drug products are evaluated and approved by therapeutic category, such as the cough and cold therapeutic category. In a major undertaking begun in 1972, the FDA has been reviewing OTC drug product categories for safety and efficacy, and it continues to do so.

Pediatric OTC cough and cold products have seen significant regulatory changes in recent years. In 2007, several health care experts petitioned the FDA to carefully review pediatric efficacy and safety data of OTC cough and cold products, requesting that these products be specifically labeled not for use in children younger than six years of age.

sick_kid

In 2008, the FDA recommended that OTC cough and cold products not be given to children younger than two years old. The trade group representing OTC drug product manufacturers, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, additionally announced that these products would be labeled “not for use” in children younger than four years old. The FDA agreed, and this remains the current status of pediatric age labeling for OTC cough and cold products.

In addition, reviews of the medical literature indicates that OTC drug ingredients are actually ineffective in reducing cold symptoms in children. OTC cough and cold products can be dangerous to use as well, with more than 100 deaths of infants and young children described in published reports where these products were the sole cause or important contributive causes.

Although several doses of pediatric OTC cough/cold products are unlikely to be toxic, these reports have described scenarios where the products were used inappropriately, by administration of doses too large, doses given too frequently, measurement of liquid doses inaccurately (too much) or administration of similar active ingredient drugs given from numerous OTC products resulting in accumulative large doses.

These mistakes were easily made by parents, considering the difficulty in accurately measuring out small liquid doses and a desire for the drugs to help (more is better).

A word of caution regarding codeine

Recent studies and recommendations have significantly altered our use of another drug historically used to treat cough in children – codeine. It is an opioid, and it is still available over the counter in some cough medicines in some states. It is available in all states as prescription products.

We have learned in recent years that codeine is metabolized differently from subject to subject. Codeine alone has very little useful pharmacologic activity, but the liver chemically alters it into its active form, morphine, and another chemical. Morphine is dangerous, as it suppresses breathing. It must be used cautiously even in adults.

For many years, codeine has been used for treating pain and cough in children and adults. Recent evaluations, however, have determined that its clinical efficacy for these uses is inferior to other available drugs. We have learned that the amount of morphine produced from codeine liver metabolism can vary widely from person to person, a result of genetic differences.

Some individuals may convert codeine to a lot of morphine, while others may convert codeine to much less morphine. Evidence has accumulated over the past 10 years demonstrating that codeine can produce a significant decrease in breathing in some infants and children.

More than 20 cases of fatal respiratory depression have been documented in infants and children. In 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a warning on the dangers of administering codeine to infants and children, recommending that its use for all purposes in children, including cough and pain, be limited or stopped.

Try these remedies instead

When your child next suffers from a cold, instead of reaching for an OTC cough and cold product, use an OTC nasal saline drop or spray product to help with nasal congestion. You can also run a cold air humidifier in his or her room at night to additionally help loosen nasal congestion. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be given as needed for fever.

If your child is coughing enough to be uncomfortable or to prevent nighttime sleep, try giving honey, so long as he or she is one or older. Honey has been recently shown by several clinical studies to be an effective cough suppressant, and is likely to be much safer than codeine and OTC cough and cold products.

These therapies have been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. When using these treatments in infants and young children, it is always wise to speak with your child’s pediatrician first, as several more serious illnesses may initially produce symptoms similar to those of a common cold.

November 23, 2016     Edward Bell       Professor of Pharmacy Practice, Drake University