Acetaminophen: Keeping it safe for your kids

Since acetaminophen is an over-the-counter remedy that parents often give to children without direct advice from health care providers, the AAP recommends that pediatricians give specific written information about acetaminophen to parents as part of well-child visits. This information should include: 

  • Recommended dosage, frequency and formulation (infant, junior, adult-strength) for each child.
  • An emphasis on the danger of substituting alternative dosage forms, in particular, adult for pediatric preparations.
  • A warning that rectal acetaminophen therapy should be avoided unless specifically ordered by the pediatrician. Rectal administration produces variable drug levels that could mislead caregivers into giving too much or too little of the drug.
  • A warning that many over-the-counter cold and cough preparations contain acetaminophen, and the simultaneous use of more than one such product may be dangerous.
  • A recommendation that parents inform pharmacists that their child is taking acetaminophen when getting a new prescription.

The AAP also reminds parents that, although they may have some anxiety over fever, complete normalization of a child's temperature is often neither necessary, nor possible.

Oct. 1, 2001 - Press Release from the American Academy of Pediatrics

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