Zyrtec for Babies and Toddlers

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What is Zyrtec?

Zyrtec is the brand name for a drug called Cetirizine. Cetirizine is an antihistamine drug and is a sedating antihistamine which means it can make children drowsy.

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Why is Cetirizine (Zyrtec) used in toddlers and infants?

Cetirizine (common brand name Zyrtec) is used as an anti-histamine, so is used mainly for:

  • urticaria (an allergic skin rash) often seen in atopic (allergic tendency) children - read more
  • allergic rhinitis (hayfever)

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What is the dosage of Zyrtec for babies and toddlers?

The dose of Cetirizine depends on age as below:

  • 6 - 12 months of age: 2.5 mg given once daily (maximum dose 5 mg daily)
  • 12 - 24 months of age: 2.5 given once or twice daily (maximum dose 5 mg daily)
  • 2 - 6 years of age: 2.5 - 5 mg given once daily (maximum dose 5 mg daily)
  • Over 6 years of age: 5 - 10 mg given once daily (maximum dose 10 mg daily)

Zyrtec comes in a 1mg/ml solution (so 2.5 mg = 2.5 ml). There is also a 10mg/ml oral drops preparation (so 5 mg is 1/2 ml).

Make sure you check the strength of the solution.

Caution should be used in children less than 2 years of age and Cetirizine should not be used in children less than 6 years who have liver or kidney problems. The dose should be reduced in children over 6 years of age who have liver or kidney problems.

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What are the side effects of Cetirizine (Zyrtec) in toddlers and infants?

The most common side effect of Cetirizine is sleepiness. Children can also cause a dry mouth, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea and even abdominal pain.

Serious side effects such as hepatitis or bronchospasm (respiratory distress with wheeze) are rare.

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References

  • Epocrates. www.epocrates.com

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Last reviewed 21 November 2007

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Dr Maud MD

Dr Maud MD (MBChB, FRACP, FRCPCH), a specialist pediatrician, provides health information and medical advice for parents of babies and toddlers. Read more about Dr Maud.



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