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Ibuprofen beats acetaminophen for treating both pain and fever, according to recent research. One large study in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that ibuprofen lowered kids' fevers better than acetaminophen at two, four, and six hours after taking the medicine. Another study of kids in the ER concluded that ibuprofen provided significantly better pain relief than acetaminophen (or codeine) for broken bones, bruises, and sprains. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen both act on pain receptors in the brain, but ibuprofen also has an anti-inflammatory effect that helps decrease swelling. "That may also make it a better choice for ear infections, which typically involve inflammation," says Richard Rosenfeld, MD, a pediatric ear, nose, and throat specialist at Long Island College Hospital, in Brooklyn. Ibuprofen also lasts longer than acetaminophen, making it more likely that your child will sleep through the night, especially in the early stages of an ear infection. Interestingly, a new study also found that children who took acetaminophen before age 1 were almost 50 percent more likely to develop asthma by age 7.
Keep in mind: Every child reacts to medicine differently, so if your child responds well to acetaminophen, it's fine to stick with it. Ibuprofen can cause stomach irritation; you also shouldn't give it to babies under 6 months.
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