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Photo of Senator Terry Gerratana.


Terry Gerratana

Healthy Families, Healthy Communities

Important Health Reminders for Parents

This week, I received two important health reminders that I would like to share with you:

Never Use Benadryl as a Sleep Aid

Caregivers should never use Benadryl or other antihistamines in order to get their infants to be quiet or go to sleep. Antihistamines like Benadryl can be very helpful for the treatment of medical conditions like allergic reactions, seasonal allergies, or itching from skin conditions. However, antihistamines can also cause drowsiness, resulting in many parents using them as a sleep aid for their children. This is a very dangerous practice, particularly with young children or babies who can experience seizures or cardiac arrhythmias, which can be fatal. Two years ago, a family in Brooklyn, CT learned this through tragedy, when their youngest child passed away as a result of the antihistamine medicine they gave her.

An online poll done in 2011 by the Today show and Parenting magazine found that of the more than 26,000 mothers who responded, one in five said they gave their children Benadryl or another antihistamine to get through a big event like a long car ride. One in 12 mothers responded that they regularly gave their children an antihistamine to keep their children asleep throughout the night. This dangerous practice is unfortunately very common, but can be prevented with awareness of its risks.

Look Before You Lock: Never Leave a Child Alone in a Car

Regardless of the outside temperature, it is never safe to leave kids alone in a car. The greenhouse effect causes heat from the sun to stay trapped in the car, even if windows are cracked open, causing temperatures to skyrocket, even on an otherwise cold day. The inside of a parked car can quickly exceed 120 degrees, which can be lethal for children, whose bodies heat up three to five times faster than adults.

Parents should always get in the habit of "looking before they lock." It can be easy to forget a child in the car if you are running errands. All it takes is a quick look through the car to prevent your child from being locked in the vehicle and risking heat stroke. Getting in this habit and suggesting it to other can help avert tragedy and save a young life.