** This post is about why I don’t use Calpol, and why I wouldn’t recommend it to a friend. For your own family, please do your own research. **
I can safely say I have a hate-hate relationship with Calpol. It works like this: I hate it… and on the other hand I hate it. I have no objections to paracetamol on its own, even though I rarely use medicine, and I absolutely agree that it should have its place on our shelves, as it does serve a valuable purpose. However, in my opinion Calpol does not, and shouldn’t be on the shelves at all.
And here, in brief, is why I don’t use Calpol and will never recommend it. For further information, please see ‘Behind the Label’.
You see, apart from paracetamol, Calpol also contains a few other ingredients. These include:
- strawberry ‘flavouring’ & carmoisine to produce its pink colour. (Chemical compound E122- suspected carcinogen, banned in Austria, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the US and not recommended for consumption by children) .
- the paraben preservatives methyl parahydroxybenzoate (E218 – suspected hormone disruptor and allergen. Banned in France and Australia) and E122. Note that both these substances have been linked to hyperactivity, and the Hyperactive Children’s Support Group identifies them as likely causes of mysterious and sudden cases of ADHD-like hyperactivity. They too say these substances are not recommended to be consumed by children.
- Maltitol (a mild laxative)
- Glycerol (E422 - large quantities can cause headaches, thirst and nausea)
- Sorbitol (E420 - There are no limits to the intake of E420; however, its use is actually prohibited for infants younger than 1 year of age, as it may cause severe diarrhoea)
- Propyl parahydroxybenzoate (E216 – suspected hormone disruptor and allergen. Not recommended for consumption by children . Possible contact allergen. Not permitted for use in France or Australia)
- Ethyl parahydroxybenzoate (E214 - suspected hormone disruptor, banned in France and Australia. Not recommended for consumption by children)
- A thickener – xanthan gum (E415- no known adverse effects)
Unfortunately, Calprofen, the Ipubrofen alternative, is hardly any better.
As adults, we go out of our way to avoid foods with too many of the so-called ‘E Numbers’, and as parents we’re told to provide our chidren with healthy, balanced diets.
And yet, here we are happy to load up our children on E numbers through over-the-counter medicine. Let’s put it another way: our response to a health problem in our child is to feed them potentially dangerous substances that we are specifically advised they shouldn’t have.
From a more international perspective, it greatly disturbs me that here in the UK we are giving our babies a product that includes substances that are actually banned in Austria, Japan, Norway, Sweden, the US, France and Australia. Even more disturbing is that when I asked a GP for an alternative to Calpol or Calprofen without all the additives (as is found in many other countries), he did not know of any, and recommended I speak to the pharmacist. The pharmacist had no idea either and referred me back to the GP.
Side effects of Calpol may include hives, rash, short breath and prolonged or habitual use may lead to liver damage or failure. I gave my daughter Calpol twice and each time her skin broke out in red and patchy blotches. I know she’s not alone in this. There have also been suggestions in the past of a link between Calpol and asthma, hayfever and eczema.
But what if my baby has a fever?
A fever, believe it or not, is a good thing. It is the body’s way of getting rid of an infections. A fever that is too high is dangerous and should be treated (with paracetamol, for example), but administering Calpol for every little thing reduces the body’s natural immunity and prevents the body from fighting off the infection, leading to what seems like a never ending reoccurring cycle of illness.
It is an exceptionally difficult thing, seeing your child suffering and in pain. But we all have to go through teething and growing pains. We all have to learn to stave off fevers and to extend our pain threshold. It’s part of building our immune system, so long as it is managed sensibly.
Yet leaving all that aside, the most disturbing part of this whole affair is the complete lack of any kind of real alternative. Why is the only option put forward seemingly by the UK’s entire medical community a substance that fills our children’s bodies with things that are documented to have the ability to cause more harm than good?
It is a question I’d love to see answered, but suspect I never will.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I write only my thoughts. I stand by my thoughts and my research and my decisions for myself and my family, but you have to make your own decisions for you and yours. I am not advocating ignoring a fever, but I am asking more parents to stand up and request, no, demand an alternative that isn’t bad for our children.