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South Med J. 2009 Apr;102(4):440-2. doi: 10.1097/SMJ.0b013e31819ba212.

Overdose in infant caused by over-the-counter cough medicine.

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  • 1Veteran Affair North Texas Health Care System, Dallas, TX 75216, USA.


Each year consumers purchase about 95 million units of over-the-counter medications for pediatric use, an unsafe application that can cause life-threatening effects. Despite a warning from the Food and Drug Administration, many parents or caregivers continue to administer these remedies to children. This report describes the case of a 4-month-old infant presenting to the emergency department with acute life-threatening intoxication including altered mental status, impaired coordination of movements, as well as a positive urine drug test for phencyclidine and an elevated serum ethanol level. Further evaluation uncovered that the actual reason for all clinical symptoms and laboratory test results was over-the-counter cough syrup.

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