Working Towards an Appropriate Use of Ibuprofen in Children: An Evidence-Based Appraisal

Maurizio de Martino, Alberto Chiarugi, Attilio Boner, Giovanni Montini, Gianluigi L. de’ Angelis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Ibuprofen is the most widely used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) for the treatment of inflammation, mild-to-moderate pain and fever in children, and is the only NSAID approved for use in children aged ≥3 months. Its efficacy and safety profile have led to its increasing use in paediatric care, even without medical prescription. However, an increase of suspected adverse reactions to ibuprofen has been noted in concomitance with the raised, often medically unsupervised, consumption of the drug. The purpose of this work was a critical review of the paediatric literature over the last 15 years on side effects and adverse events associated with ibuprofen, in order to highlight circumstances associated with higher risks and to promote safe and appropriate use of this drug. The literature from 2000 to date demonstrates that gastrointestinal events are rare, but (when they occur) include both upper and lower digestive tract lesions. Dehydration plays an important role in triggering renal damage, so ibuprofen should not be given to patients with diarrhoea and vomiting, with or without fever. Likewise, ibuprofen should never be administered to patients who are sensitive to it or to other NSAIDs. It is contraindicated in neonates and in children with wheezing and persistent asthma and/or during varicella. Most of the analysed studies reported adverse events when ibuprofen was being used for fever symptoms or flu-like syndrome. Ibuprofen should not be used as an antipyretic, except in rare cases. Ibuprofen remains the drug of first choice in the treatment of inflammatory pain in children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1295-1311
Number of pages17
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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