Prednisone Side Effects And Warnings

Learn Facts and Information About Prednisone, Both Side Effects and Benefits

Side Effects of Prednsisone in Children

Prednisone Side Effects in Children

Prednisone is a corticosteroid used for its anti-inflammatory characteristics. It is often prescribed for children with asthma, arthritis, endocrine syndromes such as adrenocortical failure and allergic reactions. This medicine has many side effects, most of them linked to gastric disorders such as ulcers, gastritis, stomach pain and acid reflux disease. The latter is a gastrointestinal disorder caused by stomach acid moving up into the esophagus. It causes heartburn, nausea, bloating and continuous hiccups[1]. Children should not take Prednisone on the empty stomach, but with food or milk. Food helps to avoid abdominal cramps caused by the excess of stomach acid, while drinking milk is an easy way to alkalinize the gastric mucosa.

Another side effect in children is muscle weakness, which goes hand in hand with other locomotor dysfunctions like osteoporosis and hypokalaemia, due to a low potassium blood level. Osteoporosis is a bone disease in which bones become fragile because of a calcium deficiency. Sometimes skin atrophy may occur during treatment, along with other skin related problems such as edema and acne, especially in children under sixteen years old. Some children may suffer neurological side effects like headaches, seizures and vertigo, which is a false sensation of dizziness during walking. They may also experience drastic mood swings during Prednisone treatment, which can lead to undesired behaviour marked by irritability, crying unreasonably or exaggerated excitement or emotion. Affected children may also develop depression.

Corticosteroids like Prednisone can be very dangerous to children when overused, leading to serious side effects such as immune suppression, and therefore a higher risk of developing all types of infections, lymphomas and other lympho-proliferative disorders[1]. Children should not be given this medicine if they have recently recovered from, or still have, any sort of infection, from fungal to bacterial. In particular, if your child is not vaccinated against chickenpox you should be careful to avoid exposure to this infectious disease. If your child suddenly develops specific symptoms such as fever, rash, blisters all over the body and skin redness, they may be infected with chickenpox and medical attention should be sought.

Prednisone has another side effect - growth suppression - so parents should regularly observe and check growth progress in their children[2]. During treatment children may also suffer from the suppression of the adrenal gland, the gland that excretes corticosteroids inside your body[3]. This is a very serious case of hormonal failure and when acute it can lead to symptoms such as lower back pain, severe vomiting, nausea, hypotension (low blood pressure) and hyperkalemia. This is known as "Addisonian crisis" due to its similarity to Addison disease, a hormonal disorder in which the adrenal glands do not produce enough corticosteroids.


  1. Jones & Bartlett Learning, Nurse's Drug Handbook Tenth Edition, 2011
  2. Pinel J., Naboulet C., Weiss F., Henkens M., Grouzard V., Medecins Sans Frontieres, Essential Drugs - Practical Guidelines, 2013
  3. Abdula T., Rao S.A., Mengistu A., Worku S., Legesse E., Aberra M., Pharmacology - Lecture Notes for Health Science Students, 2004

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