A new study has found more than 40 percent of parents are giving their children under the age of 4 cough medicine or multi-symptom cough and cold medicine, when the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recommend these over-the-counter medicines be used in infants and children under the age of 2.

According to researchers, these medications have not been proven effective for young children and may cause serious side effects, including allergic reactions, increased or uneven heart rate, drowsiness or sleeplessness, slow and shallow breathing, confusion or hallucinations, convulsions, nausea and constipation.

In response to the FDA, manufacturers of over-the-counter cough and cold products reportedly changed their labels back in 2008 to state that the medicines should not be used for children under the age of 4. Researchers advise parents and guardians to be vigilant about reading the directions and should always call their pediatrician or health care provider about questions regarding over-the-counter medications.

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