Your Child’s Cough

Treating Your Young Child’s Cough

New Options For “Treating” Your Young Child’s Cough

As parents, we know it can be troubling and frustrating to watch a young child suffer from a cough without being able to do anything to fix the problem. While older children and adults have the option of taking an over the counter cough and cold medication to ease symptoms, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against the use of non-prescription cough medicines for children younger than four years of age – primarily due to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s safety concerns and lack of evidence about the efficacy those medications in treating symptoms in children under two years of age.

For some time, common wisdom has suggested honey as an effective and natural way to treat a child’s cough. But for infants aged less than one year, honey presents a serious risk of infant botulism.

What’s a parent to do? A new study published last month in JAMA Pediatrics suggests that administering flavored water or pasteurized agave nectar can have a positive effect in ailing children.

According to a recent article published in Pharmacy Times:

The October 27, 2014 study shows that agave nectar and placebo are more effective in treating a child’s cough than “watchful waiting” with no treatment at all.

Agave Nectar For Cough

Because agave nectar shares similar properties with honey without the risks, Dr. Paul and his coauthors set out to test the effects of the sweetener in children with non-specific acute cough. To do so, the researchers randomly assigned 119 children aged 2 to 47 months with non-specific acute cough, nighttime symptoms, and an illness duration of 7 days or less to receive a single dose of grape-flavored pasteurized agave nectar, grape-flavored water, or no treatment administered 30 minutes before bedtime.

After measuring cough frequency, cough severity, and sleep quality, among other metrics, the study authors determined that both agave nectar and placebo were superior to no treatment. Although there were no significant differences detected between the 2 methods overall, agave nectar was more effective than placebo in a subgroup of 30 children under age 1, among whom there is no existing treatment option for cough, Dr. Paul noted.

“Perhaps, this is a case where giving a placebo, such as agave nectar or sugar water, can help parents and their babies get through this annoying illness," Dr. Paul said. "This is a discussion that the pediatric community and parents are going to have to have."

Treatment of cough and cold symptoms, especially in young children, should be discussed with your child’s physician. For questions about specific over the counter medications and/or prescription medications, please visit any Owens Healthcare location and speak with one of our pharmacists.