Children: Information sources

Last updated: Monday, May 16, 2022

Your choice of information source depends upon the type of clinical problem you’re dealing with, so you may need to refer to other tutorials on this site. Note also that, as with other questions, the advice may differ from source to source, so always check more than one place and discuss with a senior colleague if you are unsure what to advise.

The BNF for Children should usually be at the top of your search strategy for most questions. The NPPG and RPS have produced a quick reference guide to the BNF for Children which is highly recommended.

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The Evelina London Paediatric Formulary is a valuable free online resource that often gives practical advice on common issues that affect children.

For neonates, the Neonatal Formulary should be amongst your first choices. Its companion website does not include the text of the book, but provides access to supplementary information, and archived content about medicines that have been discontinued.

Resources that have performed the searching and evaluation for you, such as Martindale, AHFS Drug Information, Lexicomp and Micromedex can sometimes be helpful for questions involving children. If you search the primary literature using Medline or Embase then learn to use the limit function to confine your search to the age group that you are interested in.

If you think you might need to recommend the use of a 'special' medicine, then the RPS have produced guidance on the prescribing of specials which can help you through your decision-making.

Don’t forget local experts such as your hospital’s own paediatric pharmacist (who should have access to the members-only NPPG message board), your nearest paediatric specialist centre such as Great Ormond Street (London) or Alder Hey Children's Hospital (Liverpool).

In the south of England the Paediatric Innovation, Education and Research (PIER) network and the HealthierTogether initiative have developed guidance including clinical pathways for the management of a range of childhood conditions. The West of Scotland Managed Knowledge Network have also developed a drug formulary for neonates. When using other hospitals' guidelines, remember to check whether you have any local guidelines too.

The NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries allow you to browse by clinical speciality and there are many on child health.

For questions about intravenous medicines, the NHS Injectable Medicines Guide has a series of monographs specific to children.

Remember that adult resources can still sometimes be helpful for certain clinical problems affecting children (e.g. the Renal Drug Database for questions about prescribing in kidney disease).

The RCPCH and the NPPG have produced a range of really helpful support materials for parents, carers and patients on the Medicines for Children website that you can download or signpost for patients and carers. There are information leaflets, videos, and other materials to show what medicines are for, their side effects and how to administer them.

Be careful about conducting a general internet search on this subject. If you do, you may like to look at our brief guide to evaluating websites about medicines.

Presenting your answer 

Once you’ve asked sufficient questions, gathered the information required and assessed it, you’ll need to provide an answer. We can offer you some general guidance on answering clinical problems.