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06-06-2011 | General practice | Article

Stricter paracetamol dosing for children


Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency

Stricter dosing guidance for children's liquid medicines containing paracetamol has been issued by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

The UK regulator has expanded the number of dosing age bands, defining a single dose per age band.

The new dosing for infant paracetamol suspension, previously advised according to age 3 months to 1 year and 1-6 years, is now split into distinct doses for the four age groups 3-6 months, 6 months to 2 years, 2-4 years and 4-6 years.

Similarly, three different doses of paracetamol six plus suspension are now recommended for children aged 6-8, 8-10 and 10-12 years, instead of one dose for all these age groups.

The change in policy comes after a recent study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology showed that around a fifth of prescriptions of paracetamol for children issued by GPs were off-label, suggesting that overdosing or under-treatment may occur relatively frequently.

Dr June Raine, director of Vigilance and Risk Management of Medicine at the MHRA, explained: "The change is to ensure children get the most optimal dose of paracetamol suitable for their age. This updated dosing advice will clarify the doses, making it easier for parents and carers to know exactly how much paracetamol they should give their children."

GP News is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Caroline Price