Is Tamiflu Safe for Kids to Use? What Parents Need to Know About This Flu Drug

The intensity of flu season might be slowing, but it’s not over yet. Luckily there is a treatment available that can help you get through the bug quickly. However, it has left many parents wondering, is Tamiflu safe for kids?

If you’ve been fortunate enough to escape the flu so far, then you might not be aware of Tamiflu, the brand name of the drug oseltamivir, which is also available in generic form. It is an antiviral medication that can be taken to help shorten the length of the illness by about 29 hours. Unfortunately, there have been some scary side effects reported by parents of kids who were prescribed the medication. Delirium, hallucinations and suicidal thoughts were among the alarming side effects reported in kids taking the drug.

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A new study published in the Annals of Family Medicine should calm some of the anxiety over the drug. According to the study, oseltamivir does not increase the risk of suicide in kids. As Consumer Reports points out, however, that doesn’t mean all kids should be given Tamiflu. The study did not look at the other reported side effects, like delirium and hallucinations and the FDA has strongly recommended watching for any of these unusual signs in kids taking the medication.

So is it really worth the risk just to shorten the flu by about a day? In some cases yes, says Flor Munoz, M.D., an associate professor of pediatric infectious disease at the Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases. Kids who are at high risk for complications or those who are in a household with an infant under 6 months or an elderly relative can benefit from taking the drug. Ultimately, the best move is to discuss all of your options with your doctor because every case is different.

Have your kids experienced any side effects from taking Tamiflu? Share your thoughts in the comments.

—Shahrzad Warkentin



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