Codeine child safety warning by TGA

To January 2014 there have been seven reports of adverse events indicating respiratory depression in children and adolescents involving codeine. In all but one of the cases, morphine, pethidine or midazolam was also used, according to the latest Medicine Safety Update.

In combination with paracetamol, codeine can be prescribed for children after tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy, however the use of the drug in children is being closely monitored by the TGA following restrictions on its use in Europe and the US.

In Australia the minimum age for codeine is seven years, but last year a committee of the European Medicines Agency recommended that codeine not be used in children younger than 12 years. 

It also recommended that it is not prescribed in children younger than 18 years who have surgery to remove their tonsils or adenoids to treat obstructive sleep apnoea because these children are more susceptible to respiratory problems.