The state of Connecticut issued a warning this month about the dangers of administering antihistamines to children, such as Benadril, to make them calm down or fall asleep, reports ABC news.
Dr. Kirsten Bechtel, associate professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine at the Yale School of Medicine and co-founder of the Commission on the Study of Child Mortality, says that this situation has caused alarm in public health.
According to the group, at least 4 deaths in infants and toddlers occurred in Connecticut over the past year due to the toxicity of Benadril or other antihistamines, such as chlorpheniramine (chlorotrimetone).
Kirsten Bechtel described the situation as an outbreak of mortality, reporting ABC News on Tuesday, that, as far as she knew, from 2000 to 2015 the year of such deaths was also 4, that is, they occurred 15 times less often.
An online survey conducted in 2011 showed that among the more than 26 thousands of mothers who took part in it, every fifth gave drugs such as Benadril or Dramamine to their children, for example, during long car journeys.
12% of mothers said they regularly give their children sleeping pills, such as Benadryl or Dramamine, overnight.
Benadril, the main active ingredient of which is diphenhydramine, is used to treat the symptoms of allergies, such as runny nose, sneezing, itchy throat and itching and sore eyes. Common side effects include drowsiness, fatigue and headaches. Benadril is also sold as sleeping pills.
Ann Mahoney, Wyndham County State Attorney, reported Tuesday ABC Newsthat she had no idea that parents often use such medicines to calm their children. On Friday, Mahoney’s office was present in a court that sentenced 30-year-old Justin Barber from Brooklyn, Connecticut, for an overdose of the drug that caused her 8-month-old daughter 10 to die in February 2015.
According to Mahoney, Barber and her friend Kevin Hartshoorn, 34, also from Brooklyn, Connecticut, regularly gave the baby, as well as two other children, under 2 years of age, soft gel tablets before bed.
Newsletter Norwich reports that soft gel tablets are brand related Sleep Aid.
Mahoney claims this was done 2-3 times a week. “It's just a tragedy,” says Mahoney.
Barber and Hartshorne pleaded guilty to one count of negligent homicide and two counts of "risk of harm to a minor." Hartshorn received 2 years, Barber 15 months.
Benadril and other cough and cold medicines are not recommended by the Food and Drug Administration for children younger than 2 due to the risk of potentially life-threatening complications. Even in children older than 2 years of age, these medications must be appropriately metered to the weight of the child. Experts also urge parents to be careful not to mix Benadril with other sedatives.
In a statement ABC News Mike Tringale, senior director of communications and public relations for the Consumer Products Association, said: “More than 50 of millions of Americans suffer from symptoms of hay fever or other upper respiratory tract allergies, especially in spring. And today there are more over-the-counter (OTC) drugs than ever before, including products containing diphenhydramine and other antihistamines, for the safe and effective treatment of adults and children. ”
“OTC allergy medicines provide consumers with critical health benefits and direct cost savings. The OTC system is a reliable and affordable way to recover and feel good, ”he adds.
Bechtel from Yale University points out that although there have been reports of adverse effects of diphenhydramine on infants, there is no scientific evidence of how common this practice is among parents.
“We want as many parents as possible not to do this,” Mahoney says. “We need to better educate parents on how to deal with anxious children without using drugs that can be fatal.”