A doctor has warned that kids are being given so much Calpol that he has dubbed it “the heroin of childhood.”
Picture the scene: It’s 3am and you’re pounding the floor with a hot and grizzly baby. They’re definitely not well, but not poorly enough for a trip to A&E.
And, too young to tell you what’s wrong, you decide it’s time to hit the bottle – Calpol that is.
Recent statistics have revealed that parents are administering about three times as much of the pink and sticky stuff than they were 40 years ago, and now a leading expert is warning that this is bad news.
TV doctor and new dad Chris van Tulleken appears in a BBC documentary called ‘The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs’ (BBC One at 9pm on Wednesday 23 May).
Within the programme Dr van Tulleken investigates why parents are spending £64 million a year on children’s medications.
Many parents use Calpol to ease their kids’ mild fever, despite guidelines suggesting a temperature is not dangerous and will go away on its own.
A temperature is also the body’s own way of trying to fight of an infection by itself.
Dr van Tulleken’s own GP, Dr Marlow, tells him in the programme: “We have children almost addicted to paracetamol, to Calpol.
“Not the drug itself, but the process. Some describe it as ‘the heroin of childhood’.”
Now Dr van Tulleken, would like parents to be more informed about the medicine children are taking and when to administer it.
He said: “It makes me feel very angry. It’s not necessary in most of the instances they’re talking about. We need to get the facts out there.”
However, refuting the accusations Johnson & Johnson, the company who makes Calpol, said in a statement: “We strongly refute any suggestion that the information we provide to parents is inadequate.”
Commenting on the programme findings, Dr Damian Roland, a consultant in paediatric emergency medicine at Leicester Royal Infirmary, told The Sun Online that though paracetamol, if used correctly, is safe not all fevers require medication.
“If your child is very happy and very well, the fever itself isn’t doing them any harm and you don’t need to give them paracetamol just for the fever.
“What you want to do is, for any medication for your child, is give the minimum for the best possible effect.
“You are doing harm, I think, if you create a ‘fever phobia’.
“I think what we have in the UK and around the world is a paranoia about fever and what actually there should be a paranoia about is how your child is within themselves.”
It’s not the first time parents have been warned about the dangers of children taking too much paracetamol-based medicines.
Back in 2015, experts warned that giving children medicines, like Calpol and Disprol, too often could lead to serious health issues later in life.
Leading paediatrician and professor of general paediatrics at University College London, Alastair Sutcliffe, said parents were overusing paracetamol to treat mild fevers.
According to the Sunday Times, this could lead to a heightened risk of developing asthma, as well as kidney, heart and liver damage.
The NHS has some advice about when paracetamol should be administered and how often.
“Paracetamol tablets, syrup and suppositories come in a range of strengths. Children need to take a lower dose than adults, depending on their age,” the site explains.
“If you’re not sure how much to give, ask your pharmacist or doctor.”
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