Being a parent can be very stressful, especially when your child are sick. We all want the best for our kids and it is important to know about things that can greatly effect their health. Every year, up to 870,000 prescriptions of codeine are written for children in emergency rooms around the country. This is a very dangerous thing because the narcotic can have very powerful side effects on children including death. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued guidelines against it's use in 1997. The scary thing is that since the guidelines were published little has changed in codeine prescribing habits, according to a new study from Pediatrics.com.
According to the study authored by Dr. Sunitha Kaiser and her colleagues, The National Hospital and Ambulatory Medical Care survey database for emergency room visits of children between the ages of 3 and 17 from 2001 through 2010 found that in the 9 years, the percentage of codeine prescription dropped a tiny fraction from 3.7% to 2.9%. This shows that despite warnings established to medical doctors about the dangers codeine can cause to children, the field continued to prescribe the medication with no penalties.
Codeine is a dangerous opiate that when given to children can have serious side effects. The reason side effects occur is because children metabolize codeine very differently than adults. Up to a 3rd of children do not process it correctly so they need more than a standard dose to gain the effects and another 8% of children can metabolize codeine very quickly causing an overdose when only a standard dose is administered. Parents should be well aware of these dangers and be spoken to about them before doctors give or prescribe the children this medication.
Even more interesting is the prescribing of codeine for coughs. For many decades, it was very normal for codeine to be prescribed for coughs. It is most prescribed for coughs in children between the ages of 8 and 12. It is also prescribed regularly for colds. What makes it so interesting is according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “No well-controlled scientific studies were found that support the efficacy and safety of narcotics (including codeine)." This simply states that there is no evidence that codeine even helps with coughs or colds! How after all this time is this drug still be administered and prescribed even with all of it's dangers with no solid evidence that it can be therapeutic in any medical way.
Codeine is such a prevalent drug that according to the Food and Drug Administration, over 1.7 million prescriptions for codeine or codeine based medications were filled for children under 18 in 2011 alone. That is a giant amount of narcotic medication that for the majority of it's reason for being prescribed is not efficient and can cause serious side effects including death. It is time the public was educated on the dangers of codeine and to stop it's use in children.