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Codeine not safe for kids doctors warn

Codeine not safe for kids doctors warn

"Published reports and clinical evidence have shown the potential dangers of codeine as an analgesic or as an antitussive", concluded the authors.

According to the authors, codeine is still being used as over-the-counter cough formulas in 28 states in the USA and in the District of Columbia even though there have been previous studies about the medication's harmful effects on a person's health.

The risk of risky side effects has led the nation's pediatric doctors group to strengthen its warning against prescribing codeine for children.

Codeine has been linked to risky side effects and rare deadly breathing reactions, but some doctors still prescribe it to treat pain or cough in kids. A rare genetic variation can make some people metabolize codeine too fast, the Pediatrics report notes, while a different genetic variation makes the drug ineffective for some individuals.

"An opioid drug used for decades in prescription pain medicines and over-the-counter cough formulas, codeine is converted by the liver into morphine", the American Academy of Pediatrics said in a statement.

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Codeine is still available as over-the-counter cough formulas in 28 USA states and in the District of Columbia even though there have been previous studies about the medication's harmful effects on children's health.

An FDA review found there were 21 deaths from codeine in children from 1965 to 2015, and more than 60 cases of severe breathing reactions.

Respiratory issues often developed after children had surgery to remove their adenoids and tonsils, a procedure done to address obstructed breathing during sleep or treat acute or chronic tonsillitis.

Part of the problem is the way codeine is processed by the body. In the past five years, several health organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the FDA have recommended greater caution when prescribing codeine to children. Too little means the medicine doesn't work; too much means there could be risky or even fatal slowdowns in breathing. Codeine should not be prescribed to children who are under 12 years old, the AAP said.

The authors advocate that other pain treatments, whether opioid or nonopioid, start being more widely researched in children so that they can eventually replace codeine as a standard treatment of choice in the pediatrician's office. "Parents should not give their child codeine for coughs or colds".

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