Australian parents are spending millions of dollars a year on cough and cold medicines that could harm young children.
The latest Australian Child Health Poll has found Australians are spending an estimated $67 million annually on cough and cold medicines for children aged under 15-years.
A third of children aged under six-years receive over-the-counter cough and cold medicines, a product group that the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) warns could harm children of this age.
Director of the poll, paediatrician Dr Anthea Rhodes said: “We all struggle to cope with our kids’ coughs and colds over winter, but for young children these medicines are known to be ineffective, and in some cases potentially harmful.
“What’s particularly disturbing is that among parents who are giving these products to their young children, 74 per cent do so on the advice of a pharmacist, and 64 per cent on the advice of a doctor.”
The poll reveals that cough and cold formulas are not the only non-prescribed treatment being used to treat children across Australia despite a lack of supporting evidence.
“We were surprised to learn that, nationally, we’re spending an estimated $74 million a year on vitamins and supplements for children aged less than 15-years.
“About half of all children and teenagers are receiving these supplements, even though there are no proven health benefits where diet is normal and there is no established nutritional deficiency.
“For example, among this group, three out of four parents are giving their children vitamins to boost their immune system even though there is no clear evidence that these products can have that effect.”
Other key findings from the fourth Australian Child Health Poll include:
•82 per cent of children have received an over-the-counter medicine in the past 12 months and 65 per cent have received more than one type of medicine
•A substantial proportion of parents give their children paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat cough (27 per cent) or induce sleep (10 per cent), for which there is no evidence of effectiveness
•One in seven parents use over-the-counter medicines to aid sleep or relax their children for travel, such as on flights or car trips.
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