Tamiflu ‘should not be given to children’

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Scientists urge the government to rethink its strategy of giving swine flu anti-virals to some children because the harmful side effects outweigh the preventative benefits.

Researchers have found that Tamiflu and Relenza may only reduce symptoms by one day in children up to 12-years old – and balanced against potential side effects they say it's not worth the risk.

The authors of the study have called on the Department of Health to urgently rethink its strategy and believe a more conservative approach should be taken to treating swine flu in this age group.

Their study found that Tamiflu caused vomiting in some children, which can lead to dehydration and complications.

And the drug had little or no effect on asthma flare-ups, ear infections or the likelihood of a youngster needing antibiotics.

Dr Carl Heneghan, Deputy Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford, told Channel 4 News at Noon that "in any treatment you take the benefits of the treatment and relate them to the harms.

"What we get here is a symptomatic benefit of about one day's reduction in the duration of illness. But what we don't get is any reduction in the complications.

"In addition to that you get some harms of the treatment, and one of those harms is for about every twenty children treated, one of them will vomit. That can be a problem for children.

"Within the course of influenza and in any illness, some children will vomit, so this is in addition to the normal vomiting that occurs. But one of the things you concern yourself with children is that they can get dehydrated. This is different to adults where the same scenario is not a problem."

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