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Children's medicines 'contain additives which trigger hyperactive behaviour'

UK Daily Mail | September 10, 2007
SEAN POULTER

Top-selling children's medicines contain artificial additives which have been shown to trigger hyperactive behaviour, the Daily Mail can reveal.

As fears grow over the effects of such dyes in food, a study has found one or more of these additives in 18 over-the-counter and GP-prescribed medicines.

The Daily Mail is campaigning to ban the additives. On Friday, sweet giant Haribo announced it would be replacing chemicals with natural alternatives.

And Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Marks & Spencer and the Co-op are to axe the dyes from own-label products.

The campaign began after research at Southampton University found that a cocktail of food colourings - including tartrazine (E102), ponceau 4R (E124), sunset yellow (E110), carmoisine (E122), quinoline yellow (E104) and allura red AC (E129) - can lead to youngsters with no history of unruly behaviour becoming more animated, loud and impulsive.

Now concern is focused on children's medicines.

Among them is Calpol paracetamol. Its vivid pink colour is created with the red dye carmoisine.

Sudafed children's syrup has both the red dye ponceau 4R and sodium benzoate (E211), a preservative commonly used in soft drinks.

A number of Benylin and Tixylis brand cough medicines also contain sodium benzoate, which helps prolong their shelf-life.

The preservative has been linked to allergic reactions and is being phased out by many soft drinks firms.

Ian Tokelove, of the Food Commission, a campaign group, said: "The problem for parents with a sick child is that they often have an extremely limited range of medicines to choose from, which means they cannot always avoid these additives.

"That is not fair on parents, which is why the manufacturers must face up to their responsibilities and remove the questionable additives from their medicines now."

McNeil Products, which makes Calpol, said using the artificial colour was necessary to make the medicine more acceptable to children.

The Proprietary Association of Great Britain, which represents the makers of over-the-counter medicines, said all its products were independently assessed for safety before their launch.

Its executive director, Sheila Kelly, said the average three-year-old consumed about 30mg of colouring a day from sweets and other foods and that the amount of additives in medicines was "tiny in comparison".

 

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