One potential risk of using Vicks VapoRub is that it can lead to respiratory distress in children under the age of 2, according to the Los Angeles Times. In 2009, in Chest, the journal of American College of Chest Physicians, researchers reported that Vicks VapoRub may increase airway inflammation and mucus production in the lungs, which could result in severe breathing problems in children under 2.
Infants and children are at increased risk when using Vicks VapoRub because of the small size of the airways in their lungs, explains the Los Angeles Times. Any airway narrowing caused by inflammation or mucous after using this product could seriously impair the airflow to their lungs and could compromise their oxygenation status, which is a life-threatening condition.
The manufacturer of Vicks VapoRub, Procter & Gamble, questions the validity of research done on the potential risks of its product because of small sample sizes and the fact that results are inconsistent with its own findings, reports the Los Angeles Times. However, the label of Vicks VapoRub still cautions parents in using this product on children under 2 years old. Parents should ask their pediatricians and discuss the potential risks before using Vicks VapoRub on infants and children under 2.