The ideal way to calculate a paediatric dose of paracetamol is to use the child’s weight, as is standard practice in the hospital setting; however, as this is not always practical for parents to manage at home, the MHRA provides dosing recommendations based on the child’s age.
Paediatric paracetamol doses were previously based on three age bands; these have now been further subdivided by the MHRA into seven age bands. Each of the new age bands will have a single recommended dose, which increases by 2.5ml per age band and should be administered using the appropriate strength suspension, infant (120mg/5ml) or six plus (250mg/5ml). These new age bands aim to match the body weight dose recommendations more closely.
These changes will be phased in gradually on paracetamol liquid packaging. Pharmacists do not need to take any action but should continue to advise patients to use the dosing information on packs. Prescribers have been asked by the MHRA to use the new dosage instructions straight away and pharmacy labels should reflect this.