Should I Give My Child Aspirin ?
Unless prescribed by a doctor, never give anyone under age 18 aspirin for a fever or
flu. Giving aspirin for any reason to a child under 12 or, for a viral infection, to a
child under 18 can lead to Reye's syndrome. In fact, giving aspirin to a sick child can
increase chances of getting Reye's syndrome up to 35 times. This serious life-threatening
disease can damage the internal organs and brain and lead to death. Healthcare providers
now recommend giving children acetaminophen instead of aspirin to relieve pain.
Signs of Reye's Syndrome
Reye's syndrome causes blood chemistry changes and swelling of the brain, liver, pancreas, heart, kidneys, spleen and lymph nodes. The symptoms, which usually start about a week after the viral infection, may include any of the following:
Reye's syndrome is diagnosed by blood tests and sometimes by performing a liver biopsy.
The healthcare provider may also examine the cerebrospinal fluid to test for meningitis or
encephalitis, which have similar symptoms.
Since healthcare providers began recommending that parents avoid giving aspirin to children, the number of cases of Reye's syndrome has dropped dramatically. Call your doctor or pediatrician if your child begins to vomit after recovering from chicken pox, flu or an upper respiratory infection. If the child becomes drowsy, confused or delirious or loses consciousness, get emergency medical help immediately.