Posted by: Ticktock | April 17, 2008

Bad Father- My Toddler Drunk on Robitussin!!!

OK, not really. But, I did screw up and give my daughter Robitussin for her fever instead of the appropriate dose of Motrin. The bottles look the same… and I’m an idiot! My daughter, on the other hand, must be a child genious because she tried to spit out the Tussin like it was hemlock juice.  It turns out that she had just cause to protest the medicine.

As you may know, cough medicines for children were recently pulled from the market until further testing. The culprit was the strong ingredient hydrocodone. An overdose of hydrocodone could cause respiratory problems, cardiac arrest, and even death. The FDA was concerned that accidents could happen with confusion about labels and such- I guess I’m case in point.

Another problem with cough medicine was that it wasn’t even tested on children, and yet the anti-tussins listed directions for children as young as two years old.

“Companies marketing these unapproved products have not demonstrated the safety and efficacy of these drugs,” said Steven K. Galson, M.D., M.P.H., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER).

To add more fuel to my shame, it was reported in January in the journal Pediatrics that an estimated 7,000 children were treated each year for cough medicine. The CDC study showed that 64% of these hospital visits were for children ages 2-5, and were mostly connected to accidental ingestion. What about stupid accidental mix-ups from bad fathers? The study doesn’t say.

Cough medicine ingredients have had a history of not working. The American Academy of Pediatrics warned parents in 1997 that two over-the-counter cough suppressants, codeine and dextromethorphan, did nothing to relieve coughs in young children. It was discovered shortly thereafter by pediatrician professor Ian Paul that the cough medicine ingredients antihistamine diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and dextromethorphan worked no better than placebo.

So what does work for coughs? Winnie the Pooh had it right all along- good old buckwheat honey seems to do the trick better than the traditional cough medicine ingredient dextromethorphan. For unknown reasons, a small dose of honey helped children with bad coughs sleep more peacefully without excessive nocturnal coughing. Honey has always been known for being self-preserved because micro-organisms can’t grow in it.  However, parents may want to be wary of giving a dose to an infant because it may contain dormant endospores of clostridium botulinum, a toxin-producing bacteria that is deathly dangerous to babies.

So, reminder to parents. Throw out your old bottles of Tussin Cough Syrups. Read the labels carefully and don’t be stupid like myself. Honey is bad for babies, but good medicine for coughing toddlers. Oh yeah, note to self, throw away those damn Dr. Brown baby bottles.

‘Nuff said. See you next time I make an idiotic Mr. Mom mistake! It’s always a learning lesson when I do something dumb! I can’t wait!

*UPDATE 10/3/08 – 10 infant deaths in Arizona were linked to baby cough medicine in 2006.*

**UPDATE 10/3/08 – Consumer groups call on the FDA to ban children’s cough and cold medicine.**


  1. Damn.

    That would make me feel terrible. It would make my wife call the hospital. It would probably make Erin a little sleepy and feel like she didn’t have to cough so much.

    I still use the Dr. Brown’s bottles; they’re multi-componented, like a Transformer. :}

    Also, I’m a bad father.

  2. We men always seem to learn things the hard way…unfortunately! It happens to the best of us!

  3. I still use the Dr. Brown’s bottles, also. One thing about all those components BPD…they are a bitch to clean.

    – Randy

  4. Yeah they are.

  5. […] already knew that cold medicines are epic fail, now we’re finding out that Vicks sucks too.  What next?  Will mouthwash give you cancer.  […]

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