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Children should not be given cough medicine but should instead be treated with “old fashioned” honey and lemon, a leading paediatrician has said.
Using over-the-counter syrups and medications risk unintentionally overdosing toddlers and causing “toxic” events, according to Dr Oliver Bevington, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
Chair of the college’s trainees’ committee, Dr Bovington said there was no evidence cough medicines work and added they can end “actually end up doing more harm than good”.
Most childhood coughs and colds get better simply with rest, fluids and possibly paracetamol or ibuprofen, he said.
The intervention follows an announcement by the NHS earlier this year saying it would no longer fund free cough mixture.
“A lot of cough and cold medicines contain active ingredients such as nasal decongestants, antihistamines and cough suppressors that may, in large doses, have adverse effects or be toxic if consumed in large quantities, particularly to the under-sixes who are much more susceptible,” he said.
“The bottom line is there is absolutely no evidence that cough medicines work as there has been very little research with regards to their use and, potentially, they could actually do children more harm than good.
“My advice for parents would be to stick to old fashioned honey and lemon.”

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