Is it dangerous to give young kids cold medication?

Such heartbreaking news! A medical examiner has ruled that a 5-year-old Colorado girl who died back in February while under the care of her grandmother, overdosed on two over-the-counter common cold medications. The district attorney's office is reviewing the death to see if grandma will be charged, but the coroner's toxicology report states he has "no reason to suspect any ill intent."

Linda Sheets was treating her granddaughter, Kimber Michelle Brown, for flu-like symptoms, but apparently she either gave her too much medicine or the little girl took some herself because the levels of dextromethorphan (used in cough syrup) she had in her blood were two and a half times higher than the recommended dosage, according to the autopsy results.   


I can't even begin to imagine how the grandmother feels--not to mention the parents. Sadly, I can totally see this happen to anybody. 

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I've always hated medications and I normally don't resort to them unless I absolutely have to. I've felt like this about meds even before having children, refusing to even take a pill for a headache. As life would have it, though, both my children have been diagnosed with allergies and asthma and so unfortunately, they do have to take medication on a regular basis. 

I'm super leery about what medications are supposed to do and how they interact with other types of medications, but not everyone is like me. For example, although it's not recommended for children under the age of 2 to take any kind of over-the-counter cough medications, a lot of people still use them. In fact, doctors also suggest being very careful about giving these meds to children under 6, but a lot of parents don't hesitate to give them to a child who's feeling miserable because of a cold.  

While there's no point in scaring all parents into never using over-the-counter cough medicines, this little girl's death is a reminder to just be extra careful around this stuff and make sure you're following the dosage instructions. Remember, just because you don't need a prescription to get it, doesn't mean it's harmless.

What do you think about this tragic death? How do you treat your kid's cold symptoms? 

Image via emcadorette/flickr