ASK any parent and they will tell you stories of them waking up one morning with their young child having a fever. The immune system of a child is not as robust as adults so them coming down with a fever becomes a normal occurrence, with most parents already aware that giving paracetamol is the first step in lowering the temperature of their loved one.
However, children are different from adults, and while paracetamol is the first line of treatment, not all paracetamol formulations are different. 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. You may risk either underdosing your child, which can prolong your child’s 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. “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.”
Paracetamol formulations matter because they affect the total volume of paracetamol consumed by the child. If a child takes a high dosage of a concentrated paracetamol, it may lead to serious paracetamol poisoning.
Body weight affects the way paracetamol is distributed in the body. A child who is relatively heavier may require higher dosage than someone who is lighter.
“Based on scientific evidence, when given at a dose of 15 mg/kg, it produced a larger relative temperature reduction and a longer duration of substantial temperature reduction compared to when given at 10 mg/kg,” says delos Reyes. The approved and recommended dosage in Calpol Philippines label has a 15mg/kg basis.
Taking the time to learn which formulation and dosage is right for your child is essential to ensure that they can get back on their feet as quickly as possible when hit by fever. For more guidance regarding paracetamol use, don’t hesitate to ask your child’s doctor.