Is aspirin safe in children? I always find it works better for my headaches than paracetamol.
Aspirin should not be used in children under 12 years of age unless there is no appropriate alternative, and it is given under medical supervision. This is because of the rare risk of developing Reye syndrome.
90% of the children with this syndrome have taken aspirin or similar medications for a viral infection and fever within a week or two of the onset of the syndrome’ s symptoms.
Children with Reye syndrome (named after the Australian doctor who first identified the condition) have vomiting, convulsions, brain inflammation, rapid breathing, mental confusion and develop liver failure.
Unfortunately there is no specific treatment for Reye syndrome, and about one third of affected children die, while another third may have permanent brain damage.
Although the syndrome is rare (affects only two to four children in Australia every year), it is still better to avoid aspirin in children when there is a good and safer alternative in the form of paracetamol.