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Liquid Tylenol Dosage Change

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and manufacturers of over-the-counter liquid acetaminophen products recently agreed to move toward a single concentration for all liquid acetaminophen. 

All pediatric liquid acetaminophen for infant and children will be 160 milligrams per 5ml (or one teaspoon).  The hope is the single liquid concentration product will reduce dosing errors and create less confusion for parents and caregivers.

Acetaminophen, which is available both generically and under the brand name Tylenol, is a medication used to reduce fever and control pain.  Historically, it has been available as infant drops, 80milligram per 0.8ml, and for children 2 years and older as a liquid, 160milligrams per 5ml (or one teaspoon). 

Acetaminophen is generally safe when given in reasonable doses, however, each year children are treated at WakeMed Children’s Hospital for acetaminophen overdoses.   An overdose has the potential to cause liver toxicity and liver damage if taken over a long period of time or given at too high of a dose.    

The reason for changing to a single concentration is to help reduce and prevent medication errors.  The change was voluntarily agreed upon by the over-the-counter manufacturers.   Therefore, for a period of time both the concentrations will continue to be available in retail stores.   Parents and caregivers should be aware of the various products and to only use the dosing recommendations included with the purchased product.  

The new infant 160milligram per 5ml (or one teaspoon) product will now come with a dosing syringe rather than a dropper and for children the liquid acetaminophen will come with a dosing cup to assist with measuring doses.   Always contact a healthcare provider such as your pharmacist, nurse or physician if unsure of the appropriate dose.      

It is critically important for parents to fully understand any medication they are giving to their children and that they communicate clearly with their pharmacist or physician as to how much to administer and how often.  This way both caregiver and baby will feel better.

Interested in learning more about the change?

NC Poison Center

Rhonda Zillmer is a WakeMed pediatric pharmacist.