Zarbee’s cough and mucus is a popular over-the-counter medicine marketed for children, including infants, to help relieve cough and mucus associated with colds and allergies. As with any medication given to babies, safety is a top concern for parents. Below we will look at key factors to consider regarding the safety profile of Zarbee’s cough syrup for babies.
What is in Zarbee’s cough syrup?
The active ingredients in Zarbee’s cough syrup include:
- Honey – Honey has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and can help coat and soothe an irritated throat.
- Vitamin C – Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can help boost the immune system.
- Zinc – Zinc supports immune health and is often used to shorten the duration of colds.
- Chamomile extract – Chamomile has anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and sedative effects that can help calm coughs.
In addition to these active ingredients, the syrup contains purified water, organic agave nectar, and natural flavors. It is free of alcohol, dyes, and artificial flavors/sweeteners.
Is honey safe for babies under 1?
There is some debate over giving honey to babies under 12 months old due to a small risk of infant botulism. Infant botulism is a rare but serious type of foodborne illness that can occur if an infant ingests Clostridium botulinum spores, which can sometimes be found in honey.
However, the risk is quite small. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that botulism is very rare, with only 80-100 infant botulism cases reported nationally each year.
The American Academy of Pediatrics considers honey safe for babies over 12 months old but recommends against giving it to younger infants due to the botulism risk. Overall, the honey in Zarbee’s cough syrup is likely very minimal risk for babies over 6 months old, especially if given only for a short treatment duration.
Is the vitamin C and zinc safe?
The vitamin C and zinc amounts found in Zarbee’s cough syrup are well within safe limits for babies. Each 5mL dose contains:
- 30mg vitamin C – Recommended dietary allowance is 50mg/day for infants 0-12 months old.
- 5mg zinc – Tolerable upper limit is 5mg/day for infants 0-6 months and 7mg/day for infants 7-12 months.
When taken as directed, the vitamin C and zinc doses pose no safety concerns. Both nutrients are water soluble and any excess would simply be excreted in the urine.
Can chamomile cause side effects in babies?
Chamomile is generally recognized as safe for babies when given in small amounts. Some potential side effects can include:
- Allergic reactions in those with existing chamomile allergies
- Skin irritation if applied topically
- Interactions with blood thinners like warfarin
However, severe reactions are very rare. Chamomile has been used traditionally for colic, teething pain, and other infant ailments. The small amounts found in Zarbee’s syrup are unlikely to cause adverse effects in most babies.
Is Zarbee’s cough syrup FDA approved?
No, Zarbee’s is considered a homeopathic remedy and therefore does not go through FDA approval. However, the ingredients have all been evaluated and deemed safe by the FDA. The company also follows Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) for quality and purity.
What do pediatricians say about Zarbee’s safety?
Many pediatricians consider Zarbee’s cough syrup reasonably safe for babies when used as directed. For example, Dr. Daniel Ganjian, MD, FAAP states: “Zarbee’s products are usually safe for babies. I recommend Zarbee’s frequently in my practice.”
Dr. Jennifer Shu, an Atlanta pediatrician, also comments: “This brand of over-the-counter cough and cold syrup seems to be safe for babies 6 months and older when used correctly. As with any medicine, carefully follow the instructions and use the dosing device included with the specific product.”
Overall most pediatricians acknowledge that while not FDA approved, Zarbee’s contains well-established safe ingredients that can provide soothing relief for baby’s coughs and congestion.
Proper dosage for safety
When giving Zarbee’s or any medication to an infant, it is extremely important to administer the proper dose. For Zarbee’s cough syrup, the package directions state:
- Under 6 months: Ask a doctor
- 6-11 months: 1/2 teaspoon (2.5mL) every 4-6 hours as needed
- 1-5 years: 1 teaspoon (5mL) every 4-6 hours as needed
Never exceed the recommended doses. An infant dropper or dosing cup should be used to ensure accurate measurement.
How long can it be given safely?
Zarbee’s cough syrup is intended only for temporary use to relieve cough and mucus symptoms associated with colds. The package states to not use for more than 7 days or as directed by a doctor.
Persistent coughs lasting more than one week in infants may indicate a more serious condition like bronchiolitis, asthma, or pneumonia. Parents should consult a pediatrician if a cough lasts for an extended duration.
Signs of infant overdose
Signs of a potential Zarbee’s overdose in an infant may include:
- Extreme drowsiness or trouble waking up
- Excessive sedation
- Irregular or troubled breathing
- Unusual agitation or irritability
- Tremors or twitching
If any of these symptoms are present after giving Zarbee’s cough syrup, contact Poison Control or seek emergency medical attention immediately.
While generally safe when used correctly, parents should exercise some precautions when giving an infant Zarbee’s cough syrup:
- Carefully follow dosage recommendations based on age.
- Only use for short duration (under 7 days).
- Watch for signs of allergic reaction or sensitivity.
- Avoid giving other cough/cold products simultaneously to prevent overdose.
- Consult doctor if cough persists more than one week.
- Store safely out of baby’s reach.
Based on its natural ingredients and safety record, Zarbee’s cough syrup appears to be reasonably safe for infants 6 months and older when given in proper dosages for short duration. However, it is not FDA approved for use in children under 2 years old. As with any OTC medicine given to babies, parents should exercise caution, follow instructions, and consult a pediatrician if side effects develop or cough persists beyond one week of treatment.