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Placebos for Children’s Coughs

What do you do when your toddler has a cough that keeps you both up at night?

Though many over-the-counter medications exist on the market for young children, there is little science to say that they are very beneficial. Therefore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recommend them for very young children. Hence, the voluntary decision made by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association, to include warnings on their product labels.

Parents often take their children in for a doctor’s examination when coughs arise. Doctors report pressure to prescribe antibiotics, despite their ineffectiveness against cough-producing viruses. Parent don’t generally agree with a doctor’s advice to do nothing. “Pediatricians typically tell parents, ‘Don’t give your child anything,’ or at most give them acetaminophen or ibuprofen,” says Dr. Ian Paul, professor of pediatrics. With those precautions in place, there seemed to be a lack of safe, effective cough remedies for toddlers.

A recent study may have found one. According to the Penn State College of Medicine, a placebo was actually more effective than no treatment or “watchful waiting” with regard to toddler cough symptoms.  Researchers also found that agave nectar is more effective than watchful waiting. The results of the study were published in JAMA Pediatrics.

Why agave? A previous study from Dr. Paul and the Penn State team found that honey was more effective than a placebo for treating children’s coughs but as it is unwise to increase young children to the potential botulism risks that increased when exposed to honey, agave nectar was a safer option.

Children responded to agave nectar and the placebo seeing equal improvement in cough symptoms.

Dr. Paul noted. “We found that placebo was better than doing nothing. For kids under age 1, for which there is no other option, the findings may be particularly important. 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. This is a discussion that the pediatric community and parents are going to have to have.”

Read the full article here: Placebos are ‘more effective than no treatment’ for children’s coughs – Medical News Today