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Don't give a dose, to the one you love most. . .*

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Fairly Odd Mother

Frantically waving my magic wand to make wishes come true.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Don't give a dose, to the one you love most. . .*

A couple of months ago, parents in Massachusetts were charged with killing their daughter by overdosing her on prescription medications for ADHD and Bipolar disorder. She was four years old. And, she was diagnosed with these disorders at the ripe old age of two.

The coroner found Clonidine, Valproic Acid, a cough suppressant, and the antihistamine, Chlorpheniramine, in this little girl's system.

As this story has unfolded in the press, I have felt sick at what this little girl went through in her last days. This does not appear to be the case of innocent parents just trying to keep their daughter well and accidentally giving her too much medication.

However, I couldn't help but think about the 'what ifs'. What if a parent, with a doctor's prescription or with over-the-counter medications, screws up and gives their child too much? What if they don't notice their error until it is a fatal one?

I have been thinking about this a lot since I heard the news that over-the-counter cold remedies may be more harmful than beneficial to infants and toddlers (this is not a new story, since warnings have been issued in the past, but this is 'news' to me, since I never really noticed these warnings until last night's newscast).

In fact, "we recommend that families be aware of these risks and not use over-the-counter cough and cold medications for children ages 5 and under," Baltimore officials said.

That is, do "NOT USE . . .medications for children ages 5 and under". Wow.

Last night, D had a cough and stuffy nose. As he lie next to me, I knew I would normally jump up and get him something to help dry out his nose, quiet his cough. Instead, I held him extra close as he slept. And wondered if I was doing the right thing.

(* extra credit if you know the rest of this song and why it was sung)



Blogger Robin said...

Oh my god... That poor girl, I can't bear to think of what her last days, or all of her life for that matter, were like. While I understand and agree with your fear that someone could do something horrible accidentally (we had a hard of hearing pharmacist as a child who actually dispensed wrong prescriptions because he couldn't hear them properly! Thank god my mother was a nurse and didn't actually give them to us, and then called and reported the problem so that no one else would be at risk.), this case certainly sounds like willful abuse.

For the life of me though I can't fathom why the uncle and his girlfriend didn't take Rebecca in themselves, or at least call CPS if they were so worried.

2:44 PM  
Blogger Whirlwind said...

Wow, I remember a case here in CT a while back (in the town I live in fact) where the pharmasist screwed up and gave the parents the wrong perscription dose for their severly handicapped child. I cannot remember if she died as a result, but the parents didn't know.

I always give the girls OTC cough medicine, mainly becaus ethey suffer from allergies and would be miserable without it.

I can't wait for summer as well! Today is just heaven with the temp in the 50's, we even have the windows open! You'll have to tell me where those beaches are, the girls would love to be able to catch hermit crabs! We have yet to find anything mobile!

4:05 PM  
Blogger big mama said...

I think your post so beautifully points out how as parents we have the humbling responsibility of advocating for our children and checking everything that goes into their bodies. I have had nightmares about my daughter's heart medicine, either giving her too much, or the kids getting into it without me noticing(it's in the back of the fridge, hidden as well as we can, but you know kids, they'll find anything if they really want to!)

We don't really give our kids any of the cold medicines anyway... one is allergic to red dye, the other can't take it because of her heart. I've switched to stuff from the health food store: elderberry syrup and homeopathic honey cough syrup, both only when absolutely necessary. Still, I think we have to balance our needs with theirs, so often I think we're inclined to medicate children so we can have a better night's sleep!

8:35 PM  
Anonymous rachel said...

it's horrible. I've been terrified listening to the news, and I just can't understand how it happened.

I've put the meds up even higher, and I'm even more grateful now that our pharmacists know us so well! ugh.

8:43 PM  
Blogger gingajoy said...

scares the crap out of me. i gave it to my first son quite a bit (ad he's only 4 now). with this one, all these warnings are coming out and I think "what if???" just like you.

Poor poor rebecca.

9:54 PM  
Blogger Blog Antagonist said...

My 12 year old has ADD, and my youngest child, who is Spirited, sees a psychologist for behavioral reasons. Both of their doctors have cautioned me repeatedly about medicating children injudiciously, and for mistaking typical and appropriate behaviors for clinical disorders.

My oldest son started exhibiting symptoms of ADD in first grade, but they would not diagnose him or prescribe medication because it is so very difficult to discern if those behaviors are simply a more pronounced form behaviors that are expected and normal at that age.

In other words, there is no way to accurately diagnose a two year old child with a psychiatric disoder, unless the symptoms are so severe that the child is causing harm to him/herself or others.

The doctor was obviously terribly negligent.

And though I think that negligence borders on criminal, it was her parents who were responsible for her death.

When he was 9, my son received a diagnosis of ADD, and his psyciatrist suggested several meds that I was not comfortable giving my child. He takes a relatively mild medication for his ADD and even that I agonized over giving him.

It's up to us to make good decisions for our children. These people not only didn't make good decisions, they deliberately harmed their child.

How sad and tragic for that beautiful little girl.

1:34 PM  
Anonymous Mrs. Q said...

Jeezch. I just heard that cold medicines don't really DO anything, not that they can actually do harm. Being pregnant again and not able to take much of anything, I realize that most colds work their way out in the same time with justfluids and tylenol, so I'm sticking to that.

As for that little girl, I could barely even listen to that report on the radio. As parents, we hope we are doing the right things, but I always hope that my motherly instinct will kick in if doctor's advice seems a bit off...

As for the song, isn't that about STDs? From public school sex ed class? If I'm wrong, maybe it should be.

9:25 PM  
Anonymous mrs. Q said...

Oooh. Maybe it's not about STDs after all... As I sang it, yhe next line that pops in my head is "give me some marmalade, give me some toast." Not, "slap on a rubber if you're gonna get that close"... ??

9:27 PM  
Anonymous Julie said...

It is sickening to think about what those parents did to their litle angel. I hate watching the news for just that reason, because I get emotionally invested in these and other stories, then sit back and just cry.

Call me crazy but there have been sooo many times that I stare at the bottle and say do I go by age or weight, neither of my kids fall completely into one catergory. So I called the ped's office, and low and behold they say, "oh don't give her that, we'll call in a script for cough meds"

And then of course there's the times when you are standing in the aisle at CVS wondering why you can't just buy Infant Tylenol Cold, for your little one with a cough, stuffy nose, and a fever... but again, I've been instructed never to use the combination meds, by the pediatrician who I trust with my precious angels health.

Our secret to getting through coughs, colds, flus? Good old fashioned, home cooked, chicken soup. Oh that and sitting in the steamy bathroom for 20 mins. A trick that worked wonders for Croup and still works for just a cough or cold.

10:21 AM  
Blogger BlogWhore said...

i was overmedicated as a teenager for bi-polar and struggled to regain my life back. so sad, so sad.

because of this, i am reluctant to take medications or give medications to maizie.

this story is sooooooo horrible.

5:05 PM  

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