Study Shows Codeine Prescriptions For Children Could Have Dangerous Side Effects

By Peter DePaolis

According to a recent 10-year study, despite recommended limits on codeine use in children, the potent painkiller is prescribed for children in at least half a million emergency room visits each year. With more than 25 million emergency room visits by children annually, the study shows that far too many children are getting the drug when better options are available.

Codeine is an opiate drug, and a genetic variation makes some children metabolize it too quickly, potentially resulting in dangerous side effects, including excessive sleepiness and difficulty breathing. The Food and Drug Administration issued its strictest warning last year about a risk for life-threatening complications and death in children given the drug after certain surgeries.

Codeine was once commonly used for coughs, but the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against that use because of the risks and the fact that there is no evidence that it actually relieves coughs.

Some emergency room doctors may be unaware of pediatricians’ guidelines on limiting codeine’s use, or remember getting the drug themselves as children, when its use was more common. Doctors and parents should know about codeine’s drawbacks and that alternatives are available, including dark honey for coughs in children over age 1, and ibuprofen or hydrocodone for pain, including broken bones.

The FDA recommends that children prescribed codeine who develop breathing problems or unusual sleepiness should get immediate medical attention.

Did Your Child Take Codeine and Have an Adverse Reaction? Contact Us Today

If your child was injured by a dangerous drug, contact an experienced attorney today. It is important to seek legal advice promptly because your right to obtain monetary relief may be lost if you wait too long.

Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis L.L.P.

Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia Injury Attorneys


About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.