If a medicine doesn't require a prescription, many parents assume it's safe for their child to take. That's not always the case. Children often need smaller doses than adults take, while other medications aren't meant for kids at all. At Children’s, we want all kids to feel better, but we also want them to be safe.
Over-the-counter, or OTC, medicines are any medications you can buy at a drug or grocery store without a prescription. They include many common cold and cough medicines, pain relievers and allergy relief drugs. Some OTC medications, including those for fever and pain, have been studied for safety, dosing and effectiveness in kids. Most haven't.
Many OTC dietary supplements, including vitamins and herbal medicines, haven't been tested for safety or effectiveness in kids. Because children's bodies are still developing, they don't always metabolize supplements the way adults do. That can mean different side effects, especially in infants and younger children. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) offers the following cautions:
Always check with your doctor if you're planning to give your child supplements for any condition.
Children’s knows you want your child to feel better. We want the same thing. But over-the-counter medicines that work for adults, don’t always work for kids. Carefully read the labels on any medications before you give them to your child. Also, "active ingredients” are the same in many common childhood medicines, so you could be giving your child too much if she's taking more than one drug at a time. A little extra caution can prevent serious harm. Our health care professionals are on hand to answer any questions you have about over-the-counter medicines. Just ask.