Paracetamol prescribing in children

There are ‘relatively high levels of potential overdosing in the youngest children and potential underdosing in the oldest children’ in paracetamol prescribing in primary care, according to the conclusions of this study. It analysed a year’s data about paracetamol prescriptions in children aged 0-12 in general practices in Scotland.

About one-fifth of the paracetamol prescriptions were defined as off-label – being outside the BNF for Children age and dose recommendations – with incorrect doses being the most common reason. In addition, another 15% of prescriptions did not have dosage instructions.

The risk of over-dosing in young children carries a risk of toxicity, particularly as parents and carers often use paracetamol for children before they seek professional advice. For older children receiving doses that are too low, there is a risk of treatment failure and prescribing not being cost-effective.

Kazouini A et al. Paracetamol prescribing in primary care: too little and too much? Br J Clin Phamacol 2011; in press.