Use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers. Though aspirin is approved for use in children older than age 2, children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin. This includes plain aspirin and medications that contain aspirin.
Some hospitals and medical facilities conduct newborn screenings for fatty acid oxidation disorders to determine which children are at greater risk of developing Reye's syndrome. Children with known fatty acid oxidation disorders should not take aspirin or aspirin-containing products.
Always check the label before you give your child medication, including over-the-counter products and alternative or herbal remedies. Aspirin can show up in some unexpected places, such as Alka-Seltzer.
Sometimes aspirin goes by other names, too, such as:
- Acetylsalicylic acid
- Salicylic acid
If your child has the flu, chickenpox or another viral illness, use other medications — such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Children's Motrin, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen (Aleve) — to reduce high fever or relieve pain.
There's one caveat to the aspirin rule, however. Children and teenagers who have certain chronic diseases, such as Kawasaki disease, may need long-term treatment with drugs that contain aspirin.
If your child needs aspirin therapy, make sure his or her vaccines are current — including two doses of the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine and a yearly flu vaccine. Avoiding these two viral illnesses can help prevent Reye's syndrome.
Aug. 12, 2014
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2014: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2014. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 25, 2014.
- Cherry JD, et al. Feigin and Cherry's Textbook of Pediatric Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2014. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed May 25, 2014.
- NINDS Reye's syndrome information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/reyes_syndrome/reyes_syndrome.htm. Accessed May 25, 2014.
- What is Reye's syndrome? National Reye's Syndrome Foundation. http://www.reyessyndrome.org/what.html. Accessed May 25, 2014.
- Chiriboga CA. Acute toxic-metabolic encephalopathy in children. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 25, 2014.
- Reye's syndrome. The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/pediatrics/miscellaneous_disorders_in_infants_and_children/reyes_syndrome.html. Accessed May 26, 2014.
- Medications containing aspirin (acetylsalicylate) and aspirin-like products. National Reye's Syndrome Foundation. http://www.reyessyndrome.org/. Accessed May 28, 2014.
- Renaud DL (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. June 2, 2014.