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Ibuprofen, Other Anti-Fever Drugs Tied to Kidney Damage in Kids

Update Date: Jan 25, 2013 06:29 AM EST

Drugs that are commonly used during fever like ibuprofen or naproxen can lead to significant kidney injury in children, says a new study article. Researchers have found that these medications are especially dangerous to children who have suffered from dehydration due to flu or other illnesses.

Kids who have fever can be given acetaminophen. However, the best way to treat a child who has mild fever is to give no medication and let his or her immune system do its job, at least for a while, said Jason Misurac, M.D., from Indiana University.

About 3 percent of all kidney injury cases that have occurred in children have been linked to the use of these non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). The research was conducted by researchers from Indiana University School of Medicine along with colleagues from Butler University.

Researchers report that in four of the kidney injury cases, the patients had to be put on dialysis and seven might have had irreversible damage to the kidney.

"These cases, including some in which patients' kidney function will need to be monitored for years, as well as the cost of treatment, are quite significant, especially when you consider that alternatives are available and acute kidney injury from NSAIDs is avoidable," said Dr. Misurac, a fellow in pediatric nephrology.

The data for the study came from medical records from Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health in Indianapolis. Researchers analyzed data from 1,015 cases between January 1999 and June 2010 of children who had undergone treatment for kidney injury.

Researchers found that most of the cases involved no lapses in dosage and that these children were given recommended doses of the NSAIDs; children below age 5, who had suffered from kidney injury after using NSAIDs, had to undergo dialysis and most of the older children required extensive hospitalization.

During the study period, more than $375,000 was spent only on treating cases that involved kidney injury after anti-fever medication use.

NSAIDs stop blood from flowing to the components in the kidney that filter out the waste. In kids who are dehydrated, the restriction of the blood filtering mechanism can cause significant kidney damage, said Dr. Misurac.

The article is published in the Journal of Pediatrics.    

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