Is It Safe to Use Dextromethorphan for Children?

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  • Written By: C.B. Fox
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 03 April 2020
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Under the supervision of a doctor, it is generally safe to use dextromethorphan for children between the ages of four and 11 years. In order to be used safely, the dosing instructions should be carefully followed so that there is no risk of an overdose. It is also important to make sure that multiple products containing this medication are not used simultaneously, as this can lead to an accidental overdose.

It is not considered safe to use dextromethorphan for children under the age of four years. The drug has been known to have severe adverse effects in infants and young children. Women who are breastfeeding should check with a doctor before using this drug themselves, as it may pass to an infant through the breast milk. It is also possible for dextromethorphan to harm an unborn baby, so women who are pregnant should also check with a doctor to make sure it is safe to use this medication.


When prescribed by a doctor, dextromethorphan is generally safe for children between the ages of four and 11 years. Youths over the age of 12 may also take dextromethorphan, though usually at a different dose than younger children. The dosing instructions should be followed, and the child should be observed to make sure that there are no serious adverse reactions or allergic responses. It is important to discontinue administration of dextromethorphan to children who exhibit difficulty breathing, hives, or changes in consciousness. These conditions require prompt medical attention.

It is not safe to use dextromethorphan for children if it is given in a tablet or suspension made for adults. Dosing requirements for children can be quite different than those for adults, and a doctor needs to carefully consider the child's age, weight, and needs before prescribing this medication. Giving a child a lower dose of dextromethorphan that is made for adults can have serious consequences, given that an overdose of this drug can lead to serious illness or death.

In 2011, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made the decision to pull some medications that contain dextromethorphan from the market. Though this drug is still considered safe, certain medications that use a time release formula or that use dextromethorphan in combination with other medications have not been properly evaluated. In the case of these medications, the use of dextromethorphan for children may not be advised.


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