The dangers of codeine and children - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

The dangers of codeine and children

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The study published in the Pediatric Journal of Medicine says that codeine warns about the use of codeine in children. The study published in the Pediatric Journal of Medicine says that codeine warns about the use of codeine in children.
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(WTVM) -

New evidence shows a potent painkiller is being given to children at hundreds of emergency rooms across the country. The study published in the Pediatric Journal of Medicine reaffirms warnings about the use of codeine in kids.

Dr. Joseph Zanga, Chief of Pediatrics at Columbus Regional Health says, it's the third time since 1997 that these warnings have been issued. He says the use of codeine in kids is not very effective, and more importantly it's dangerous. Codeine changes in the body to morphine. Some children metabolize the drug so slowly that it has no effect and about one-third of children metabolize the drug so fast that it converts to a large amount of morphine.

"Which then causes them to slow down their breathing, maybe stop breathing and die. The most important thing, however, is that we're using it for reasons that we shouldn't be using it for in the first place," said Dr. Zanga.

Codeine is used as a cough suppressant and pain reliever. Coughing is the body's way of getting rid of something in the lungs or throat and suppressing it, inhibiting the body's own defense mechanism. Dr. Zanga says there are more effective and safer ways of treating coughs such as hard candies or by drinking plenty of liquids. Tylenol, Motrin, or Advil are alternatives for pain relievers.

Information based on national data shows that codeine was prescribed and given to about three percent of children in emergency rooms in 2010. That number seems small, but it is more than 500,000 emergency room visits. The Federal Food and Drug Administration also warned about the use of codeine in children, and last year issued a black box warning on prescription brochures.

"This drug has a danger associated with it and you should be careful about using it and perhaps you shouldn't be using it in certain ages of patients, or patients with certain conditions, or for certain conditions. The black box warning," said Dr. Zanga.

When asked why some doctors still prescribe codeine to kids Dr. Zanga says  some doctors do it because it's traditional, or the doctor doesn't realize the effects are different for children. Parents often demand that something be done to help their child without understanding the risks. But parents should be vigilant. He says it's okay to tell your doctor you don't want a codeine prescription for your child.

"Say, I heard, I read, I saw on tv, or the internet that Codeine is not a good drug for my child. Could you prescribe something else. Could you recommend something else," said Dr. Zanga.

Dr. Zanga strongly recommends that Codeine be taken out of the set of drugs given to kids.

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