We have our first broken bone. Actually, it is a fracture. My son has a crack in his elbow.
Kids get hurt. Kids break bones. Kids sometimes need pain-killers or fever reducers. Although we normally stick to all natural, herbal medicines, there is a time and place for OTC drugs. This is one of those times.
As I perused the aisle of pain-killers looking for one that also reduced inflammation, I was struck how there are no alternatives to the heavily sweetened, artificially flavored drugs. There are generic brands by the drugstores themselves, some of which are “dye-free”, but I could find none without high fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors or colors.
Why do we need this crap in our medicines? Why hasn’t an alternative been developed?
Actually, some of the generic store brands are HFCS-free. CBS Detroit explains:
Perrigo also recently conducted extensive research with parents on infants’ and children’s OTC products that relieve pain and reduce fever. More than half of the 600 mothers surveyed indicated a preference for children’s medications that contained no high-fructose corn syrup. In response, Perrigo will begin labeling their dye-free formulas as “high-fructose corn syrup free.” As part of an earlier, industry-first initiative, all of Perrigo’s infant pediatric acetaminophen products will be available with “gluten free” labeling.
What about the artificial flavors and colors? Couldn’t they just use glycerin?
There are even more ingredients to worry about than HFCS and food dyes in children’s medication. Practically Green identified the following concerns:
1. Parabens. Yup — those same ones I’ve been assiduously avoiding in my kids lotion because of concerns about potential endocrine disruption? I’ve been letting them eat the stuff. My kid’s medicine has butylparaben in it, which evidently affects the fertility of male rat offspring. I know… I know. Parabens are “Generally Recognized as Safe” by the FDA. According to the Chemical Encyclopedia on Healthychild.org however, parabens when ingested are “slightly toxic.” All I know is that I don’t want them in my medicine!
2. Artificial Colors. We try to avoid those too. I figure if warning labels about artificial colors went onto our European friend’s kids products, I’m avoiding them. As I was digging into the specifics of each color, I noted that one of the products contained Yellow #10, which isn’t ALLOWED in food, but is allowed in drugs?! Oh, but not in Europe. According to ColorCon,
“Currently, D&C Yellow #10 is approved for use in drugs and cosmetics but is not approved for food uses. This material is not acceptable for use in foods or drugs in Europe due to a difference in the specifications of the monosulfonated and disulfonated components of the dye.”
3. Sodium Benzoate. I had to do a little research to remember why this common preservative set off alarm bells, but oh yes – sodium benzoate mixed with artificial colors can lead to hyperactivity in children, mixed with ascorbic acid there is concern about benzene formation (a known carcinogen), and a UK scientist recently noted in a lab that it affected the mitocondria of DNA.
4. Propylene Glycol. This compound might be the most confusing of the bunch. The Environmental Working Group gives it a “moderate hazard” rating (4) when used in cosmetics, but doesn’t mention food. The ether version (PGE) has been linked to increased allergies. Even the Material Safety Data Sheet says it is hazardous when ingested (assumedly in very concentrated amounts). But what about in medicine? It IS an additive that theAmerican Academy of Pediatrics has raised concerns about, primarily because of adverse reactions that range from eczema to lactic acidosis especially when administered in large quantities. But the Center for the Science in the Public Interest doesn’t mention it in their food additive list, either as safe or one to avoid and they are usually all over this stuff. Hmmmm.
And then, just for that final insult to injury, throw in some high-fructose corn syrup and lots of other sugars, including sorbitol.
It’s very frustrating, as I can find children’s pain relievers without HFCS, but then they contain artificial dyes and flavors. The same is true vice versa: The pain relievers and fever reducers without artificial dyes and flavors contain HFCS.
Oh what to do? Fortunately, our need for such products is very rare; however, I do wish an alternative was available. If you know of one, please let us know.