Question & Answer

Does taking Paracetamol regularly (e.g. Calpol) harm children's organs?

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  • Paracetamol is a commonly used painkiller for children and is often given to children for headaches, stomach aches, toothaches, earaches, cold symptoms and high temperatures (fevers).
  • A systematic review is a way to gather and analyse all the information available on a topic to understand what we know about it.
  • We found a systematic review, which demonstrates that paracetamol is as safe as ibuprofen when taken at the recommended dose. Both are safer for children than some other pain-relief medicines.
  • We found another systematic review that suggests that paracetamol has similar safety levels to ibuprofen and placebo (including for the kidneys, digestive system and asthma).
  • Another systematic review shows that paracetamol has been proven safe for the liver in infants and small children. This review also suggests that, despite being taken for granted, more in-depth research is needed on paracetamol and early brain development.
  • We did not find any evidence on how regular or frequent use of paracetamol affects children’s organs.

Things to Remember

  • We can rarely, if ever, be 100% certain about the effects of treatments or know exactly what will happen, if a treatment is used.
  • It is important that we have high quality systematic evidence (studies and systematic reviews) so we can best judge what the effects of a treatment might be.


  • Lead Researcher: Dr Marie Tierney, Postdoctoral Researcher, Informed Health Choices-Cancer project, School of Nursing & Midwifery, University of Galway.
  • Reviewed by: Dr Paula Byrne, Senior post-doctoral researcher, iHealthFacts, Evidence Synthesis Ireland and Cochrane Ireland, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Galway and Prof Declan Devane, School of Nursing and Midwifery, HRB-Trials Methodology Research Network, Evidence Synthesis Ireland & Cochrane Ireland, University of Galway.
  • Topic advisor: Dr Sinéad Lydon, Associate Professor, Discipline of General Practice, School of Medicine, University of Galway.
  • Public and Patient advisor: Deirdre Mac Loughlin, Public and Patient Involvement in research (PPI) advisor, PPI Ignite, University of Galway.
  • Journalist Advisor: Dr Claire O’Connell, PhD in cell biology, Masters in Science Communication. Contributor to The Irish Times, writing about health, science and innovation.

Conflict of Interest Statement: The authors have no financial or other conflicts of interest for this health claim summary.