February 18, 2019 3:18 pm

Opioids could be lurking in your child’s cough medicine, Health Canada warns

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Health Canada is warning parents not to give young children and adolescents cough and cold medicine containing opioids due to safety concerns and its lack of effectiveness.

The advisory, issued Monday, extends to adolescents and children under 18.

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READ MORE: Opioids in the home lead to higher risk of children overdosing, study says

There are three prescription opioid drugs authorized for sale to treat cough symptoms in Canada: codeine, hydrocodone and normethadone. All three are available for adults and children.

After a safety review of the medications, Health Canada said the products are linked to other known harms, such as breathing problems, and there is “limited evidence to support the effectiveness of these products in children and adolescents.”

WATCH: The tragic impact of Canada’s opioid crisis on children

Health officials have become increasingly vigilant about the distribution and use of opioids amid a spike in addiction and deaths due to the powerful drug.

Nearly 4,000 Canadians died from opioid overdoses in 2017, according to the federal government.

The cough and cold medicine recommendation may be more of a precautionary warning, though.

WATCH: Opioid rates in smaller Canadian communities more than double than those of large ones

Health Canada said the safety review found “little evidence” to link opioid-containing cough and cold products with opioid use disorders in children and adolescents.

However, the department said the early use of opioids still may be a factor in problematic substance use later in life, as well, younger children are at a greater risk of accidental poisoning.

Health Canada is notifying manufacturers to update product safety information on cough and cold medicine containing opioids and to limit the recommended age of use to adults only.

READ MORE: Force a patient off opioid painkillers, and you could set people up for worse harm, experts say

“There are other products available in Canada to help relieve the symptoms of cough and cold in children,” it stated in a release.

The announcement comes a year after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released new rules that restricted the prescription of cough and cold medication containing opioids for children and adolescents under 18.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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