Dr. Art Mollen Dec. 7 health topics

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

Children with colds

Most babies and young children don't need medicines if they have a cold, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Over-the-counter (OTC) cold and cough medicine should not be given to children younger than 2, because they could cause serious and potentially deadly side effects.

Adults average about three colds a year, but children get them more often. Parents might want to give them pain relievers, decongestants and other medicines, but in many cases, the best approach may be rest and care.

A cold is self-limiting, and most patients get better on their own in a week or two without any medications. For older children, some OTC medicines can help the symptoms.

Colds are usually caused by viruses and bacterial infections.

A cough is a normal symptom of a cold and actually provides a benefit by clearing mucus out of the airway lungs, so don't suppress all coughs with medicine. Non-drug treatments to ease coughs in children with a cold include plenty of fluids and steam.

Parents should call their doctor if a fever occurs, as well as breathing problems or wheezing. With small infants, fever is a major concern, so call your pediatrician.

Supplements linked to liver injuries

Most people believe supplements are safe. However, liver injuries caused by herbal and dietary supplements have actually doubled in the past 10 years.

Cases include injuries caused by bodybuilding supplements and many other supplements, some of which were taken to reduce inflammation and enhance muscle mass.

They can increase the risk of jaundice, a yellowing of the skin.

There is less stringent oversight for herbal and dietary supplements by the FDA. However, there is greater potential for harmful consequences including life-threatening conditions.

Also be careful when mixing supplements with any prescription medication that you might be taking.

Toy-related injuries

Before you buy holiday gifts for your kids, here's a sobering statistic: a new study shows that a child with a toy-related injury is treated in an emergency room every three minutes.

More than half of toy-related injuries occur among children younger than 5, and children under 3 were at a particularly high risk of choking on small toys and parts.

Many injuries involving riding toys such as foot-powered scooters, wagons and tricycles, with 28 percent of these injuries occurring among children younger than 5.

In fact, injuries involving ride-on toys were three times more likely to involve a broken bone or dislocation, according to the study in the journal, "Clinical Pediatrics."

Some safety tips for parents and caregivers:

Read and follow age restrictions and other manufacturer guidelines for toys, and examine all toys for small parts that could pose choking hazards for small children.

Make children wear helmets, knee pads and elbow pads.

Restrict the use of riding toys to dry, flat surfaces and away from traffic.