OK, now we SHOULD be neurotic


After dropping the boys off at day camp this morning, I treated myself to a coffee and the New York Times. I was glad I did– kind of– because this article was on the front page:

Parents Warned Cough Medicines Imperil Infants

Here’s my first thought on this: actually, we haven’t been warned. Not really. I don’t count an article in the Times, since not all parents have time to peruse the New York Times each morning (and neither will I, in another 8 weeks– having two hands free to hold and flip through a newspaper is a distant memory when you have an infant who nurses every two hours). If I were living in the SAHM bubble from which I have only recently emerged– by having two kids who are at last old enough to be in day camp every morning– I would not have seen this article.

In case you haven’t, either, let me give you the highlights:

Cold and cough medicines marketed as being safe for children, including those with “drawings or pictures of infants in diapers on their labels,” were actually never tested for use in children. “Instead, the drugs’ makers performed studies in adults and then simply assumed that they would work in children,” the Times explains. “Among the ingredients that have caused concern are…dextromethorphan,which… can cause neurological problems, including abnormal movements and hallucinations, even in standard doses.
Another is pseudoephedrine, a decongestant that has been associated with infant deaths.”

OK. This is the kind of information that you shouldn’t be able to open Internet Explorer, or turn on the television, without seeing in flashing lights. This is the kind of thing you should be getting individual calls at home about, and I think L’il Happee Koffer Yummy Grape Syrup, or whatever the offending drug is, should shoulder the costs of calling each of us up to say, “Hi. Do you have kids? Well, you know how we have a cute diapered baby crawling across the label of our medicine? Which would have led you to believe, as a parent, that this was a product for small children? We were totally messing with you. Totally unsafe. OK, bye.”

Does anyone else find this absolutely infuriating? How is it possible that for years we’ve all thought it was OK to give our children medicines THAT WERE NEVER TESTED ON CHILDREN? And now that the FDA has declared these medicines will “imperil infants,” why are they still on the shelves?? Why is this acceptable?

When are moms going to say, enough is enough? Why aren’t we taking to the streets over the millions of toys that, NOW they tell us, have lead in them? And not Cheap-o brand “Bag o’Glass” Dan Aykroyd type toys, but Mattel! And Fisher-Price!

As you know, dear readers, it is a constant struggle for me– and for many mothers– not to sweat the small stuff, not to flip out if the milk isn’t organic, or if I forgot the sunscreen at home. Every day I tell myself that the “Mother Load” of things to worry about is mostly crap.

But then these studies come out, and they’re scary, and frankly made even more scary to me by the fact that they aren’t we-interrupt-this-regularly-scheduled-programming announcements. The FDA is “issuing an advisory” and it’s up to you to find it and read it, and these medicines are still on the shelves, and who knows how many kids are sucking on Dora Princess with Real Spinning Action’s leady head right now?

I am appalled that I have exposed my children to unsafe drugs, and LEAD, for Pete’s sake, when of course I know those things are terribly unsafe. But I figured, so did Fisher-Price, and Robitussin. Now I find out that they never really bothered to check, and now, apparently, I can’t trust what these companies tell me is safe for my children to play with or ingest. I don’t want to be the neurotic mother who only gives my children Montessori-inspired wooden toys made in Denmark. But at times like these she’s looking pretty smart, isn’t she?

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