Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Aspirin - not for babies, no matter what the package says.

I was stunned to read this article in Advance for Nurses about a local grocery store which was still selling low-dose chewable aspirin labeled as "baby aspirin" or "children's aspirin"

The author details her experiences treating a child with Reye's Syndrome (strongly linked to aspirin use in children and teens with viral illnesses) and her efforts to get the product off the store shelves.

It's a worthwhile effort, but I believe her efforts are misdirected. If it was just one grocery chain, going after the chain management might be effective. It's not just one chain.

She found "children's aspirin" in Food Lion. I went to my local Giant store this week and found "children's aspirin" there as well. It's manufactured - and labeled - by several very well-known companies. We need to go after the companies who mislabel their low-dose aspirin. They need to recognize the risk they present to children and to re-label their product as "low-dose" aspirin rather than "children's aspirin".

Children should only take aspirin if their pediatrician recommends it. Mine NEVER has. Not once. I'm sure there is still some reason to give aspirin to a child, but parents shouldn't make that decision without consulting their pediatrician. The risk of Reye's syndrome is just too great. Parents still make the mistake of giving aspirin for fevers - the first sign of many viral illnesses. It's just not safe.

The FDA should act on this, and the author of the article is lobbying for that as well. However, I think that a grass-roots effort by healthcare professionals and parents could effect a change much faster. Next time you go to the pharmacy or grocery store, look at the pain-reliever aisle and particularly the children's medication section. You might find "children's aspirin" in either place. If you find it, take a minute to challenge the manager of the store -- probably useless, but worth trying. Then make a note of at least one brand that is inappropriately labeled and write them a letter explaining why they need to change the packaging.

I'm going to start with Bayer. The name is almost synonymous with aspirin - and yes, they are one of the offending companies. Their web site says "low dose" and "for adult aspirin regimens" but the package inappropriately says "baby" or "children's" aspirin.

1 comment:

NICU101 said...

So true! My husband thinks I'm a nut for refusing to give aspirin to the kids because it clearly says "children's" on the label. Awareness about Reye's syndrome is pretty low among parent's today.