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Codeine Not Safe for Kids: Pediatricians Warn of Scary Side Effects

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By    |   Tuesday, 20 Sep 2016 06:47 AM

Codeine is not safe for kids, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which is calling for more education about the drug's risk for patients under age 18.

The academy issued a statement Monday pointing to its new clinical report published in the October 2016 issue of Pediatrics, which documents a growing trail of evidence linking the drug to life-threatening and fatal breathing reactions "in a pediatric setting."

The academy wrote that, despite the trend and concerns raised by it, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the World Health Organization, the drug still is available without a prescription in over-the-counter cough formulas from outpatient pharmacies in 28 states and the District of Columbia.

"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. "Because of genetic variability in how quickly an individual's body breaks down the drug, it provides inadequate relief for some patients while having too strong an effect on others."

"Certain individuals, especially children and those with obstructive sleep apnea, are 'ultra-rapid metabolizers' and may experience severely slowed breathing rates or even die after taking standard doses of codeine," the statement continued.

According to ABC News, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration first warned of the potential dangers for children in 2012. The FDA reported 10 deaths and three overdoses associated with codeine from 1969 to May 2012. Many of those cases were associated with children who had just had surgery to remove tonsils or adenoids, according to the news site.

"Effective pain management for children remains challenging because children's bodies process drugs differently than adults do," Dr. Joseph D. Tobias, the lead author of the study, said in the academy's statement.

Dr. Sunitha Kaiser, an assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco Benioff Children's Hospital, told the website Healthline that she supports the academy's position, saying that it can be difficult to judge how a child's body will react to codeine.

"Children are much more vulnerable," Kaiser told Healthline, adding that kids are at a greater risk of receiving dangerously high levels of the drug. "This is a great step the AAP is taking."

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Codeine is not safe for kids, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which is calling for more education about the drug's risk for patients under age 18.
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2016-47-20
Tuesday, 20 Sep 2016 06:47 AM
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