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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - Sunnybrook

5885 Sunnybrook Drive
Sioux City, IA 51106

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Making Sure Your Child's Cough Syrup is Safe

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Making Sure Your Child's Cough Syrup is Safe

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released a clinical report regarding the use of codeine in children under the age of 18 years.  Codeine has been used for years as a pain medication and as a cough suppressant.  However, in 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning for codeine use in children, due to an increased risk of apnea and death.  Codeine is metabolized to morphine in the body.  In a subset of patients, known as “ultra-rapid metabolizers,” metabolism is increased and converts the codeine into a much higher volume of morphine that can suppress breathing and lead to death.  Despite this warning four years ago, codeine can still be found in over-the-counter (OTC) cough suppressants and is still being prescribed by some medical providers.

So, what can you do as a parent?

  1. If you have any codeine-containing products at home, take them to your nearest “MedDrop” location for disposal.
  2. Do not purchase or give your child any OTC cough suppressants that contain codeine.  In fact, cough suppressants of any kind should never be given to a child under the age of 4-years-old.  If your child has a cough that is bothersome or associated with breathing difficulties, fever or difficulty sleeping, please consult your child’s primary care provider.
  3. Do not give your child any codeine-containing product for pain relief.  If your child is having pain, talk with their doctor about using acetaminophen and ibuprofen on a scheduled basis for pain control and only escalate to an opioid pain medication when necessary.

Together, let’s keep our children safe by saying “no” to codeine.