Ibuprofen vs. Acetaminophen for Ache and Fever in Infants

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Some doctors prefer ibuprofen to treat fever and pain in babies. others use paracetamol. A new review of studies found ibuprofen may be slightly more effective.

The researchers combined data from 19 studies involving more than 240,000 children under 2 years of age that compared acetaminophen (Tylenol and generic drugs) with ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, and other brands) for safety and effectiveness. The analysis takes place in JAMA Network Open.

Ibuprofen was slightly more effective in reducing fever between four and 24 hours after administration, and there was moderate quality evidence that ibuprofen was more effective even after. Neither drug was more effective than the other in lowering fever within four hours of administration.

Ibuprofen was associated with better pain reduction four to 24 hours after dosing, and there was weak evidence that it was more effective than paracetamol afterwards.

Some experts have suggested that acetaminophen may be linked to an increased risk of asthma and ibuprofen may be linked to an increased risk of kidney problems. However, this review found few serious side effects from either drug, and there have been a few studies that found no side effects at all.

"In fact, both drugs are very safe in young children," said senior author Dr. Stuart R. Dalziel, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. "I give ibuprofen to my children, which may be associated with less asthma and may be more effective at relieving pain."

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