No Tamiflu for children, doctors told

Doctors should stop giving Tamiflu to children as a routine treatment for swine flu, researchers concluded after finding the drug can cause more harm than good.

Analysis revealed antiviral drugs speeds up children's recovery from flu but the side effect of vomiting can cause dehydration and other complications.

Researchers who carried out the study called on the Department of Health to halt the practice of Tamiflu and other antivirals being handed out as a matter of course to children with flu.

It should, they said, only be given to children aged 12 and under in exceptional circumstances such as when flu represents a serious risk to the well-being because of an underlying condition.

Equally, they said, there is a serious risk that if antivirals are overused the swine flu virus will develop resistance to Tamiflu by the time a second wave of swine flu is expected to sweep the country in the autumn.

The findings, published in the British Medical Journal, come shortly after another study revealed more than half the children who took Tamiflu suffered side effects such as nausea and nightmares.

Dr Matthew Thompson, of the University of Oxford and a GP, said that for most children the benefits of getting better half a day to a day and a half quicker than without antivirals were outweighed by the misery of the side effects.

He maintained it would be better for children to nurse their symptoms in bed a little longer rather than take Tamiflu when the symptoms were relatively mild.

"Parents are used to dealing with mild respiratory ailments. It's something every parent is familiar with. Children with mild flu are going to have a fairly small benefit from antivirals," he said.

"With every medication it's a balance between the potential benefits and the potential harm. The benefits of these are fairly small – it's about a day's shorter illness."

Instead of being routinely prescribed, he said a "targeted approach" would be a much better use of the drugs, especially as the study found the drugs had little or no effect in preventing asthma flaring up or ear infections setting in.

With 13 people having to take antivirals to prevent one person getting flu it was concluded the drugs had only a limited effect in halting transmission of the disease, bringing into question the decision to hand out Tamiflu at schools and other organisations earlier this year in a bid to stop swine flu spreading.

The study was carried out jointly with Dr Carl Heneghan, also of the University of Oxford and a GP, who called on ministers to change the rules on handing out antivirals to children during the swine flu outbreak.

Officials at the Department of Health refused yesterday to halt the use of Tamiflu. A spokesman said: "While there is doubt about how swine flu affects children, we believe a safety-first approach of offering antivirals to everyone remains a sensible and responsible way forward. However, we will keep this policy under review as we learn more about the virus and its effects."

Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy as ECB finally wield the axe
News
people

Sport
footballPremier League preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's clashes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

    £50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

    Ashdown Group: MS Dynamics AX Developer (SSRS/ SSAS) - global business

    £425 per day: Ashdown Group: A small business with an established global offer...

    Ashdown Group: IT Support Engineer - Growing Law firm

    £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable law firm based in central London ...

    Ashdown Group: Part time Network Support Analyst / Windows Systems Administrat

    £30 per hour: Ashdown Group: An industry leading and well established business...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas