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Minerva Pediatrica 2019 February;71(1):82-99

DOI: 10.23736/S0026-4946.18.05453-1

Copyright © 2018 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

Ibuprofen in the treatment of children’s inflammatory pain: a clinical and pharmacological overview

Massimo BARBAGALLO 1 , Paola SACERDOTE 2

1 Department of Pediatrics, Azienda Ospedaliera di Rilievo Nazionale e di Alta Specializzazione “Garibaldi”, Catania, Italy; 2 Department of Pharmacological and Biomolecular Sciences, University of Milan, Milan, Italy



Unlike fever, which is often over-treated especially in children, pain is underestimated and under-treated in pediatric age. The pharmacological agents approved for treating pain in these patients are few, also considering the recent limitation for codeine in children younger than 12 years. Paracetamol and the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) ibuprofen are the most used at this purpose. The aim of this overview was to analyze the therapeutic appropriateness of ibuprofen in children based on its pharmacological properties. This work is a critical review of the pediatric literature over the last 20 years on efficacy and adverse events associated with the use of ibuprofen as analgesic in the pediatric population. Ibuprofen resulted effective in several pain conditions in children such as musculoskeletal pain, ear pain and acute otitis media, toothache and the inflammatory disease of the oral cavity and pharynx. The drug is a reasonable and efficacious alternative in postoperative pain, including tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. It remains the treatment of choice for pain in chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis. Side effects and adverse events associated with ibuprofen are mild. It has the lowest gastrointestinal (GI) toxicity among NSAIDs, although some cases of GI toxicity may occur. Its renal effects are minimal, but dehydration plays an important role in triggering renal damage, so ibuprofen should not be given to patients with vomiting and diarrhea. Ibuprofen showed a good safety profile and provided evidence of effectiveness for mild-moderate pain of different origin in children. In case of fever or pain, the choice about the drug to be used should fall on ibuprofen in a clinical context where there is an inflammatory pathogenesis.


KEY WORDS: Pain - Ibuprofen - Child

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