I know Tara is going to kick me for this post, because as one of the resident D.I.N.K.s here at ScienceBlogs my parenting advice doesn’t extend into the realm of “ethical” so much as “practical”. Specifically, I’ve advised her on numerous occasions to just give the toddlers a “pharmacological sleep aid” of sorts. Ok, ok, so my suggested “sleep aid” usually takes the form of whiskey or Nyquil, but I’m not adverse to Benadryl either. After all, diphenhydramine is actually recommended by pediatricians to help kids sleep. Surely it is just as efficacious as my other suggestions, if a little on the “lightweight” side!
Turns out I was wrong.
In fact, the national study, conducted by researchers from Georgetown University Medical Center and published in the July issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, found that the drug appeared to perform worse than a placebo agent. Only 1 out of 22 children showed improvement in sleeping after using diphenhydramine compared to 3 in 22 children who used a placebo. The drug, an antihistamine, is available over-the-counter in generic forms or as the name-brand drug, Benadryl®.
Wow, I hope she hasn’t actually been taking my advice. Guess that’s why I’m not a doctor. And why I don’t have kids.
The investigators had hypothesized that, based on the sedative properties of diphenhydramine in adults, treated children would be more likely to fall asleep without any other help from their parents, and that doing so would lead them to associate the crib with sleep and comfort, helping them to fall back asleep if they woke up.
But Merenstein says the results were surprising. Diphenhydramine use was no more effective than a placebo in reducing nighttime awakening, “or improving overall parental happiness with sleep for infants,” he says.
“The bottom line here is that parents and pediatricians should rely on evidence-based medicine and not on leaps of logic that border on folklore,” Merenstein says.
So it appears we have yet another case where the “common wisdom” doesn’t apply to dem der youngins. Thank goodness whiskey still works. Although now that I think about it, a two year old with a hangover probably isn’t the best idea…..
(and no, I don’t actually advocate Nyquil or 80 proof ethanol)