Majority or 82 percent of parents around the world use paracetamol to treat their children’s fever and pain, yet it is still common for them to make dosing mistakes.
But aside from wrong dosage, parents actually usually make two mistakes that keep their children sick for longer and potentially become worse.
Paracetamol is not created equal. The formulation made for adults are not recommended for kids.
In the GSK Expert Survey Results, 78 percent of experts in the Philippines have heard of parents giving their children a small dose of adult paracetamol. However, paracetamol formulations are adjusted to the different dosages required across age groups.
It is important to take note of the paracetamol formulation of the bottle. Parents may risk either underdosing their children, which can prolong their fever, or overdosing, which can cause side effects such as liver injury.
“The antipyretic effect or fever controller of paracetamol is dose-dependent from six months to 12 years of age,” explains Dr. Carmina A. delos Reyes, pediatrician and infectious disease specialist.
According to Dr. Delos Reyes, “Various formulations of paracetamol are available to address the needs of children. For infants up to 2 years old, paracetamol suspension 100mg/ml can be used; for children 2-6 years of age, paracetamol 125mg/5ml is the ideal choice; and for children 6-12 years old, paracetamol 250mg/5ml is the best option.”
When parents are in a rush to treat their sick children, it can be tempting to tweak the dosage based on estimation or gut feel. In fact, many moms and dads skip reading medicine labels when administering paracetamol to their child.
To ensure right dosage, check the paracetamol formulation, which is usually indicated on the product label, and know the child’s weight.
Paracetamol formulations matter because they affect the total volume of paracetamol consumed by the child. Experts caution, if a child takes a high dosage of concentrated paracetamol, it may lead to serious paracetamol poisoning.
Body weight affects the way paracetamol is distributed in the body. A 2018 study revealed, a child who is relatively heavier may require higher dosage than someone who is lighter.
Overdosing is quite common. In the US, a study reported that 12 percent of cases among children aged less than 6 years old are a result of wrong dosage calculation based on faulty paracetamol formulation.
On the other hand, underdosing erodes confidence in paracetamol as a tool to treat fever and pain because it delays the child’s recovery, causes stress among parents, and results in unnecessary trips to the hospital.
“Based on scientific evidence, when given at a dose of 15 milligrams per kilogram, it produced a larger relative temperature reduction and a longer duration of substantial temperature reduction compared to when given at 10mg/kg,” says Dr. Delos Reyes.
For instance, the approved and recommended dosage in children’s paracetamol brand Calpol Philippines has a 15mg/kg basis.
Instead of guessing the right way to manage their children’s fever, parents are advised to consult with a doctor to know more about paracetamol use.
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