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Arch Dis Child. 1990 Aug;65(8):826-9.

Trends in the incidence of Reye's syndrome and the use of aspirin.

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  • 1Public Health Laboratory Service Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre, London.


In 1986 there was a public warning in the United Kingdom about a link between the consumption of aspirin and Reye's syndrome. To find out if the use of aspirin and paracetamol in children had altered, and whether the incidence of Reye's syndrome had changed since a previous study, parents were interviewed in Belfast and London, and the British Reye's Syndrome Surveillance System data were reviewed. Children with febrile illnesses were 17 times more likely to have received aspirin before admission to hospital in 1985/6 compared with 1988/9. Only 21 Belfast parents (40%) and 13 London parents (27%) had heard of Reye's syndrome and only 12 in Belfast (23%) and seven in London (15%) knew of its association with aspirin, suggesting a continuing need for public education. Cases of Reye's syndrome declined both in numbers (from a peak of 79 in 1983/4 to 19 in 1988/9) and in median age. Of the 418 reported cases, the diagnosis was subsequently revised in 89, most often (in 31 of 89, 36%) to 'inborn errors of metabolism'.

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