Phenergan Drug Warning

Pediatric Medication Basics

A child who is fussy and vomiting shouldn't be given Phenergan
A child who is fussy and vomiting shouldn't be given Phenergan. Photo by Getty Images

It can be very frustrating to take care of a vomiting child, both for parents and pediatricians.

Whether they are vomiting because they have strep throat or a simple stomach virus, it is easy to feel pressured to do something to keep the child from getting dehydrated.

Phenergan for Vomiting Kids?

This could lead to a prescription of Phenergan (promethazine), an antiemetic that can keep your child from vomiting, but often at the price of many other side effects.

In addition to making your child very sleepy, Phenergan can cause respiratory depression (which means that your child could stop breathing) and dystonic reactions, with involuntary muscle spasms.

It is also important to note that Phenergan is not recommended for children under age 2. In fact, the FDA recently strengthened their warning and now states that, "phenergan is contraindicated for use in pediatric patients less than two years of age because of the potential for fatal respiratory depression. Postmarketing cases of respiratory depression including fatalities have been reported with use of Phenergan in pediatric patients less than two years of age." The FDA also states that 'caution should also be exercised when administering Phenergan to pediatric patients two years of age and older.'

Also, keep in mind that the manufacturer states that 'antiemetics are not recommended for treatment of uncomplicated vomiting in pediatric patients, and their use should be limited to prolonged vomiting of known etiology.'

Alternatives To Phenergan

So before you ask for a prescription for Phenergan, keep these side effects in mind. Even the mild side effects, like drowsiness, can make your child's condition worse. After all, even if your child isn't vomiting anymore, if he is sleeping, then he isn't drinking any fluids and can still become more dehydrated.

Instead, other treatments for vomiting and diarrhea should be helpful the next time your child is vomiting because of a stomach bug.

Also keep in mind that Zofran has become a popular alternative to Phenergan, even for younger kids.

Phenergan, whether used as tablets, suppositories, injectables, or syrups, should not be used in young children though.


FDA Alert. Information for Healthcare Professionals - Promethazine (marketed as Phenergan and generic products). 04/2006

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