Doctors’ groups are warning against using medicine with codeine for kids’ coughs or pain.
MDs advise against codeine for kids
The American Academy of Pediatrics has strengthened its warnings about prescribing codeine for children because of reports of deaths and risks for dangerous side effects including breathing problems, The Associated Press reports.
The academy’s advice, published in a report last week in its medical journal, Pediatrics, mirrors warnings from the Food and Drug Administration about using codeine for kids’ coughs or pain.
Studies suggest it is still commonly prescribed by doctors and dentists despite the risks and lack of evidence that it works to relieve coughs.
Doctors and parents should choose another remedy when possible, including acetaminophen and ibuprofen for pain and simple remedies such as ice or Popsicles after tonsillectomies, said Dr. Charles Cote, a Boston anesthesiologist and co-author of the report.
“Maybe a little pain is better than the alternative,” he said.
Codeine is an opiate drug once commonly used in over-the-counter cough syrups and as a painkiller, particularly after surgery. But the report notes that a rare genetic variation makes some people metabolize it too quickly, potentially resulting in excessive sleepiness and difficulty breathing. A different genetic variation makes the drug ineffective for pain relief in as many as a third of patients.
It is available by prescription, including in cough syrup sold in pharmacies in 28 states, Cote said.
Help improve 911-assisted CPR
Public feedback is being sought for draft standards set by the American Heart Association to help 911 dispatchers walk callers through CPR during a suspected cardiac arrest.
The organization will collect comments until Nov. 16 and use the input to encourage emergency communications and dispatch centers nationwide to adopt the standards. For details or to comment, visit
“It’s important to get public comment because there are numerous, important stakeholders in this space,” said Dr. Michael C. Kurz, an associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and chairman of the AHA’s Telephone-CPR task force. “With the variety of dispatch and EMS systems, we need to know how these recommendations will affect cardiac arrest care.”
More than 350,000 Americans have a cardiac arrest outside a hospital each year, and only 12 percent survive.
Among nearly 2,000 U.S. dispatch centers surveyed in 2010, only about half provided CPR instructions by phone, research has found.
Immediate CPR can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival, and dispatcher-assisted CPR could double the number of cardiac arrest patients who get CPR from bystanders.