Aspirin danger for teenagers

(Daily Mail Oct 19,1999)

DOCTORS are warning that teenagers who take aspirin are at risk from a potentially fatal brain and liver disease. Aspirin bottles have a warning about Reye’s Syndrome for children under 12 and the number of reported deaths has dropped since doctors warned parents not to give aspirin to young children.

But now it has been discovered that in more than halt the number of reported cases the patient affected was a teenager.

The findings come from a survey carried out by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, which is alerting the Government’s Medicines Control Agency after finding that 10 out of 17 cases of Reye’s Syndrome involved teenagers.

Reye’s Syndrome causes a swelling of the brain and liver, causing sickness and personality changes.

Without rapid treatment patients slip into a coma and die from severe brain damage. Doctors believe that some patients have an in-built susceptibility to the illness, which they think could be triggered by a viral infection. In America drug labelling advises all young people under 20 to avoid aspirin because of the risk of Reye’s Syndrome.

Dr Susan Hall, of the Public Health Laboratory Service, which investigated the data, said parents had to be vigilant and look out for unusual symptoms. Parents of teenagers, and young adults themselves, are being told to use paracetamol as a safe alternative to aspirin.