Ibuprofen possibly better for toddlers than paracetamol - study

Ibuprofen. Photo credit: Getty

Put down the pamol - ibuprofen might be a better fix for your toddler's woes, a new study has found.

Kiwi researchers looked at previous research covering 240,000 children, and found ibuprofen is better at reducing temperature and pain over the first 24 hours of treatment than paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen.

"In this study, ibuprofen use was associated with reduced temperature and less pain within the first 24 hours than acetaminophen use," the study, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, found.

No safety differences were found either, with adverse events from either medication "uncommon or rare" when taken at appropriate doses. 

"A commonly cited reason for avoidance of ibuprofen in younger children is their perceived higher risk of kidney toxic effects, particularly in the context of dehydration," the study said. "We did not find any evidence to support this view.

"Concern has been raised that ibuprofen use may increase the risk of serious bacterial infection in children... We found insufficient evidence to support or refute these hypotheses."

There were hints in the data that ibuprofen use could lower the risk of asthma, but more evidence is needed to prove it. 

After the first 24 hours, paracetamol and ibuprofen appeared to be equally effective, the study found.

The researchers, from the University of Auckland, the Liggins Institute, the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand, Starship Children's Hospital and Middlemore Hospital, said more data was needed to confirm the results in the youngest babies - under six months of age. 

"Large, randomised trials are needed to address these knowledge gaps, designed to include and report on the subgroup of infants younger than six months."