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Paracetamol prescription by age or by weight?
  1. Warren Lenney
  1. Correspondence to Warren Lenney, Academic Department of Child Health, University Hospital of North Staffordshire, Newcastle Road, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire ST4 6QG, UK; warren.lenney{at}

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Paracetamol is the most frequently used medicine worldwide. It is usually bought as an over-the-counter medication for use in all ages but is particularly favoured for treatment in infants and children by parents, pharmacists, doctors and nurses. It has an excellent safety profile when used within the recommended dose range and is the first line pharmaceutical treatment in common clinical situations such as elevated temperature in childhood caused by intercurrent infection, and irritability in infancy and childhood following immunisation. It is also used for the relief of pain, for example following mild injury, and for toothache and simple headache. Given that much usage is undertaken by parents and carers without discussion or contact with the medical profession, it is important that prescribing and administration information is clear and simple.

The dosages recommended in the British National Formulary for Children (BNFC) are divided into different age groups and are within the licensed dose recommendations as indicated in the summary of product characteristics agreed with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

It has been suggested that due to wide variations in children's weight for a given age …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.