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The Informed Parent

Fever Reducers And Pain Relievers: What Parents Need To Know

by Lori A. Livingston, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Jan. 09, 2012

It is common practice for pediatricians to recommend Acetaminophen (previously Tylenol brand) or Ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil brand) for pain relief or fever reduction. In general, these medications are safe when used according to directions. However, if given in excessive amounts they can cause irreversible liver or kidney damage. .Parents should always consult their pediatrician for proper dosing before giving these medications to infants and children. The following changes have been made recently and are very important to remember and discuss with your doctor:

  • Infant Acetaminophen is safe for infants from 0-6 months of age at proper doses based on weight. It is used for fever or pain, most often after vaccines or during illness.
  • Do not give Acetaminophen before vaccines. Many infants have no reaction to immunizations and do not need it. New research indicates Acetaminophen may decrease the immune response and effectiveness of vaccines.
  • Infant Acetaminophen dosing has recently changed. Parents need to look closely at the label since two different concentrations are available over the counter. Old Infant Acetaminophen is 80mg per 0.8ml and included a dropper with two lines. New Infant Acetaminophen is 160mg per 5ml and includes a syringe with 4 lines. Both can be given every 4 hours if needed for fever or pain.
  • The following chart should help with proper dosing. Please call your doctor for advice if you are not sure how much medicine to give your child.
  80mg/0.8ml 160mg/5ml
6-11 lbs. Give 0.4ml  (½ dropper) Give 1.25 ml
12-17 lbs. Give 0.8ml (1 dropper) Give 2.5ml
18-23 lbs. Give 1.2ml (1 ½ droppers) Give 3.75ml
24-35 lbs. Give 1.6ml (2 droppers) Give 5 ml

Infant Ibuprofen should not be given to infants under 6 months of age due to higher risk of serious allergic reaction. For infants over 6 month old, it is used for fever or pain. Directions are usually on the bottle based on infant weight. It can be given every 6 hours if needed. If you are not sure how much to give, call your pediatrician.

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