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Time to say "no" to codeine

Organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the European Medicines Agency, have issued very stern warnings about the occurrence of adverse side effects of giving codeine to children.

The chemical name for codeine is methylmorphine; it is an opiate drug that that the body changes into morphine. The speed at which a person’s liver metabolizes codeine will determine what its effects are. It has been used for over 50 years as both an analgesic and an antitussive, but is no longer considered safe for relieving pain or coughing in children.

Doctors most likely to prescribe codeine are Otolaryngologists, Dentists, Pediatricians, and Family Physicians. Not every provider is up to date on current advice about codeine!

Patients with the greatest risk of adverse effects from codeine are those with sleep apnea.

According to Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, October 2016, “Children who are rapid metabolizers of codeine into morphine often suffer respiratory depression and death. Large amounts of morphine can cause respiratory depression or apnea.”An FDA panel met in December 2015 and, by an overwhelming vote, recommended that the use of codeine to treat pain or cough in children under the age of 12 be contraindicated. This is the FDA’s strongest word of caution about a drug! The panel also issued a warning that codeine should not be used in adolescents between 12 and 18 years who are obese or have conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea or severe lung disease, which may increase the risk of serious breathing problems. (Also, the FDA strengthened its warning to breastfeeding mothers: The infant can suffer similar respiratory distress, if the mother uses codeine.)

For parents, the message is clear. A pharmacologic healthcare delivery system may offer to your child a form of “relief” that is NOT safe for their health. Ask for alternatives.

Remember that children respond very well to chiropractic care; it is safe, effective, and non-drug-related. Give your children the gift of true health.


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