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Acetaminophen Overdose Cause Most Cases of Pediatric Liver Failure

Filed June 7th, 2012 Laurie

According to researchers at the Canadian Medical Association Journal, acetaminophen overdose is the most identifiable cause of liver failure in children, and that dosing mistakes make children and infants especially susceptible. The researchers say both patient- and systems-directed interventions are needed to prevent serious and potentially fatal errors.

“Although regulatory bodies have begun taking steps to improve labelling and raise awareness of potential harm, there remains substantial room for practical and point-of-care interventions,” the article said.

But even youngsters with educated parents can suffer an overdose because of repeated supratherapeutic dosing, in which has become more frequent due to advent of combination analgesics and the availability of pediatric liquid formulations in varying combinations.

The researchers suggested in their report that focusing on parent education and improving communication between parents and physicians are necessary for keeping children safe. They also suggest stronger warnings on medication packaging about the risk of overdose, including weight-based dosing charts; banning the use of cough and cold medicine in younger children; the inclusion of dosing devices with pediatric medications, and greater counseling by pharmacists when prescriptions are picked up by parents.

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