Preventing Reye's syndrome 

You should not give aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) or medicines that contain aspirin to children under 16 years old, unless a doctor specifically advises you to do so.

You should also not give the following to young children unless advised otherwise by a doctor:

  • acetylsalicylate
  • salicylic acid
  • salicylate
  • salicylate salts – found in Bonjela (a treatment for mouth ulcers)

Alternatives to aspirin

If your child or teenager has flu (influenza) or other viral infections, painkillers such as ibuprofen or paracetamol can reduce their fever and relieve pain. However, ibuprofen is not recommended for those with a history of:

Check with your GP or pharmacist if you are unsure. You can also read more information about paracetamol and ibuprofen.

Conditions that need aspirin

Some children under 16 years old have specific conditions that need to be treated with medication that contains aspirin. For example:

  • Kawasaki disease – a condition that causes inflammation of the arteries
  • juvenile arthritis – a rare form of arthritis that affects children

If your child has one of these conditions, your paediatrician may decide the benefits of taking medication containing aspirin outweighs the risks. If your paediatrician advises that your child should take aspirin, they may also recommend the chickenpox and flu (influenza) vaccines to reduce your child's risk of developing Reye's syndrome.

Read more information about chickenpox vaccination and flu vaccination.

Page last reviewed: 30/10/2012

Next review due: 30/10/2014