The UK health regulator MHRA has issued a press release confirming that codeine-containing medicine should only be used in children over 12 years of age to treat short lived moderate pain. This is only if it cannot be relieved by other pain killers such a paracetamol or ibuprofen.
Where it is used in children it should be used at the lowest effective dose and only for the shortest period of time recommended by a doctor. This is because some patients may be at an increased risk of rare but serious adverse reactions as a result of the way the body handles codeine and younger children may be particularly susceptible.
It has also been concluded that codeine should not be used in any patients under 18 years of age who undergo the removal of tonsils or adenoids for the treatment of sleep apnoea. This is due to an increased risk of severe breathing difficulties.
Codeine is not commonly used in children but there is evidence that there is a risk of side effects in children and other pain killers should be used wherever possible.