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Asthma risk with children’s blue cough syrup

Blue-coloured cough syrup is best avoided by children with asthma tendencies. Not one but two colours are used to give this over-the-counter medicine its ‘attractive’ blue hue.

In one leading brand, I found artificial colour 133 (or brilliant blue) and artificial colour 104 (quinoline yellow) which are both associated with a heightened risk of an asthma attack . The yellow synthetic dye is banned in the USA, Japan and Canada and must carry a warning label in Europe. No such requirement in Australia, I?m afraid.

Fortunately there are now colour-free versions of most children’s medicines but I can’t help but wonder why a blue version is even necessary. I asked a few pharmacists who commented that it was simply to make it more attractive for children to take. I can’t imagine giving a child who is already feeling unwell something that can cause allergic and hyper-sensitive reactions, asthma, hyperactivity and skin irritations.

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Lindy Schneider is a writer and researcher with a keen interest in health, wellbeing and natural childcare. She is an advocator of a chemical-free lifestyle in the best interests of her family, the community and a sustainable world. She lives in the Yarra Valley with her partner and two young children.

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