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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  recently warned that doctors shouldn’t prescribe codeine or hydrocodone cough/cold medications to children or teens. This comes on the heels of a warning last April directed at medical prescribers, advising them not to give codeine and tramadol meds to children younger than age 12.

Your kiddo has a cough. And not one of these little clear-your-throat types of coughs. Nope. She has a major, full-on, hacking display of coughitude. And you’re starting to worry. The cough is keeping your little one up all night and she can barely function in pre-k during the day. So you do what any mama would. You take your child to the pediatrician.

Don’t expect a prescription for codeine or hydrocodone to relieve your sick kid’s symptoms. Obviously. That is, if your doc is following the FDA’s new guidelines (which it’s likely that he is). So what’s behind this change in prescribing? With a growing concern over opioid use, doctors and the regulators are shying away from any opioid-containing prescription drug. This includes codeine and hydrocodone.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. said (in an FDA press release), “Given the epidemic of opioid addiction, we’re concerned about unnecessary exposure to opioids, especially in young children.” Dr. Gottlieb went on to add, “We know that any exposure to opioid drugs can lead to future addiction. It’s become clear that the use of prescription, opioid-containing medicines to treat cough and cold in children comes with serious risks that don’t justify their use in this vulnerable population.”

Along with advising doctors to stop prescribing these opioid-containing meds to children and teens, the FDA is also changing the way adult-only cough/cold opioids are labeled. These must include safety warnings that are similar to the labeling on other opioid-containing products.

How do you treat your child’s cough or cold? Share your tips in the comments below.