Aspirin Just not for kids
Parent Circle|December 2016

We’ve always thought of aspirin as a harmless but effective drug to treat fever, aches and pains. We even give it to our children. But beware! Aspirin can prove fatal if given to children below the age of 12 when they have a fever. Read on to know more.

Ashwini Somayaji

Some years ago, one day, worried that my 4-year-old daughter was coming back from school with repeated viral infection, cold and fever, I turned to the Internet to read up about fever in children and the medications to treat it. It was then that I stumbled across information that left me shocked — use of aspirin during a fever can be fatal for children below 12. This input led me to dig deeper and find out more. Here are some of my thoughts on the subject:

WHAT IS ASPIRIN?

Aspirin is a common over-the-counter medication used for treating fever, pain and inflammation (redness and swelling). Over the years, it has also been found to offer protection against heart attacks and strokes due to its blood-thinning/ anti-clotting properties. Its many uses has earned it the reputation of being a ‘wonder drug’.

The active component of aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid, a chemical compound. Some other over-the-counter medications that contain the same active compounds are Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate (used in adults to treat diarrhoea and upset stomach). However, aspirin is not recommended for children under 12 years of age.

WHY ASPIRIN IS BAD FOR CHILDREN WITH FEVER

The use of aspirin in children during or immediately after a fever is linked to the increased incidence of a rapidly progressive brain and liver disease called Reye’s syndrome. This syndrome leads to death in about 20–40% of the affected patients, while about a third of the survivors are left with significant brain damage.

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