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Confusion over cold medicine for kids

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NBC - Winter's the time for colds and not feeling well, and you've probably already made a trip to the drug store to make yourself feel better, but for kids, it's a different story.

Years after new guidelines parents are still confused about what they can, and shouldn't do.

If you are looking for a good mystery these days, skip the bookstore and head straight to the drug store. Then, ask any parent what the rules are these days for kids cough and cold medicines.

Pediatrician Manisha Panchal, MD says, "There are so many choices out there. The question is which ones are safe. Parents can be very confused."

Dr. Panchal says in 2008, the FDA along with the major drug companies, came out with new, very straightforward guidelines: recommending parents do not use cough and cold medicine for children under the age of four.

But still, more than two years later, many parents are still unclear what to give, or not give, a sick child.

Parent Maribel Perez says, "It's kind of hard to give the right amount. We're not sure so we always cut it in half not to get more than you are supposed to get."

Parent Mary Anne Williams says, "It's not so much confusing for me as it is for my parents who gave me all those cough medicines."

The reason the FDA recommended the stricter guidelines in the first place is because they've found too many parents giving kids the wrong doses. They would, for example, measure medication with a kitchen spoon rather than the provided measuring cup and end up giving too much. Or get mixed up when giving multiple medications.

Dr. Panchal says, "For example they'll buy the Pediacare cough and cold because that's what their child has and then they don't realize that there was Tylenol in there and then they use the Tylenol again."

And even with the new guidelines, Dr. Panchal reports still seeing those mistakes today. She does, however, have a few suggestions to get you through the illness.

Saline sprays are good to use against nasal congestion. Honey, good for a cough, in children older than one. Never use any medicine meant for an adult. And finally, if the illness isn't bad enough to require a call to the doctor, perhaps, do nothing at all. Simplicity is often the best cure for confusion.

Parent Saunders says, "Don't give em anything. The body knows how to fight it off."

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