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Pepto-Bismol and Kids

Expert Q&A


Updated May 16, 2014

Young girl being given medication
Peter Cade/The Image Bank/Getty Images
Q. Can I give my kids Pepto-Bismol when they get an upset stomach? Laura, San Diego, California

A. It depends, both on how old your child is and which type of Pepto-Bismol you are thinking of giving them. The 'original' or regular strength Pepto-Bismol almost seems like a miracle drug for kids with stomach problems, offering 'soothing relief' for many common symptoms, including:

  • Upset Stomach
  • Indigestion
  • Diarrhea
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
The only problem is that the main ingredient, bismuth subsalicylate, has been linked with Reye Syndrome, a potentially life-threatening disorder that has been associated with kids that have viral illnesses, especially the flu and chicken pox, and who take aspirin and other salicylate containing medications, like Pepto-Bismol.

This led the FDA to allow the original Pepto-Bismol and Kaopectate, which also contains Bismuth Subsalicylate, to only include labeling instructions for children over age 12. Some doctors go even further though and recommend that even teens not take aspirin or salicylate containing medicines.

To add to the confusion though, there are many other forms of Pepto-Bismol, including caplets and chewable tablets that also contain Bismuth Subsalicylate.

Children's Pepto Chewable Tablets

On the other hand, the Children's Pepto Chewable Tablets that also help relieve 'heartburn, sour stomach, acid indigestion, and upset stomach due to these symptoms or overindulgence in food or drink' contains Calcium Carbonate as its active ingredient.

So unlike the other forms of Pepto-Bismol, it would not be associated with Reye Syndrome and would be okay for younger children. In fact, Children's Pepto Chewable Tablets can be given to children as young as age two years old.

And since it is basically calcium, it can make a nice calcium supplement for those children who don't drink enough milk or calcium fortified orange juice, etc.

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