Placebo better than nothing for kids' coughs
Parents of very young children are often at a loss when it comes to what to give them when they have a bad cough. Because the FDA has recommended that over-the-counter medicines not be given to children under two, many pediatricians advise a treatment of "watchful waiting."
But new research at Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine suggests that a placebo or a dose of agave nectar may be a more effective option.
The scientists studied 119 children three years old or younger who had non-specific acute cough, night-time symptoms, and who were sick for one week or less. They gave them either grape-flavored agave nectar, grape-flavored water or no treatment.
Details of whether a child improved was provided by their parents. Researchers found that both the grape-flavored water placebo and agave nectar worked equally well and got better results than no treatment.
Though the findings might be subjective due to parents reporting symptoms and improvement, the study suggests those treatments as an alternative to waiting for a cough to go away or giving children risky over the counter medicine.