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Ibuprofen Use in Young Children

Topic Overview

Ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin) is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is used to relieve pain and reduce fever and inflammation.

Be sure to follow these medicine precautions:

  • Your child's over-the-counter medicine will have a "Drug Facts" label. On the label, you'll find directions for your child's age or weight, the dose to give, and how often to give the dose. For children younger than 6 months of age, follow what your doctor has told you about the amount to give.
  • Ibuprofen comes in liquid, tablets, caplets, or concentrated drops. Read and follow all the instructions on the medicine bottle and box carefully before giving your child any medicine. There are different products and strengths for infants and children. The correct dose and timing of the dose are important for the medicine to work well.
    • Be extra careful with liquid medicines. Infants usually need a different dose than older children do. And some liquid forms are stronger (more concentrated) than others. Always read the label so that you give the right dose.
    • When you give medicine, use the tool that comes with the medicine, such as a dropper or a dosing cup. Don't use a spoon instead of the tool. Spoons can be different sizes. If the medicine doesn't come with a tool to give doses, ask your pharmacist for one.
  • Do not alternate ibuprofen and acetaminophen because of the possible risk of overdose. Studies have not shown any more benefit from alternating these medicines.
  • If you are giving your child ibuprofen for fever or pain, don't also give your child a cold or flu medicine that contains acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Your child could get too much medicine.

Side effects of ibuprofen are usually mild. Stomach upset or discomfort is the most common side effect. If the medicine upsets your child's stomach, you can try giving it to your child with food. But if that doesn't help, talk with your doctor to make sure it's not a more serious problem.

Do not give your child ibuprofen if he or she has any of the following:

  • History of gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Allergic reactions to aspirin or related drugs
  • Anemia
  • Blood-clotting defect

Do not give your child ibuprofen if he or she is taking any of the following medicines:

  • Blood thinners (anticoagulants)
  • Corticosteroids (such as prednisone)

Credits

Current as of: July 17, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor MD - Emergency Medicine

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Here are a few additional resources as well:

World Health Organization
Centers for Disease Control

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