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What is phenobarbital?

Phenobarbital is a medicine used in children to prevent seizures. It may also be used to treat jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes due to a very high level of bilirubin in the body).

How is it given?

This medicine may be given intravenously (IV) by a health care provider. It also comes in liquid and pill forms that you can give to your child at home.

Phenobarbital has what is called a "long half-life". This means that it can take several days for the amount of medicine in the body to change. Give this medicine to your child exactly as your health care provider prescribes. Do not give more or less or stop using this medicine without your health care provider's approval.

If you have the liquid medicine, draw up the correct amount in the medicine dropper or oral syringe. For babies, you can mix the medicine with a small amount of formula or breast milk and give it with a bottle nipple before a feeding. Do not add medicine to a whole bottle because if your baby does not finish it, you will not know how much of the medicine was taken. For older children, squirt a small amount of the medicine inside the cheek. Let your child swallow each squirt before giving more. This helps prevent choking. If you have the pill form and your child cannot swallow pills, crush the pill between 2 spoons or inside a plastic bag or folded paper. Mix with about 1 teaspoon of soft food such as applesauce, yogurt, or ice cream.

Do not give this medicine at the same time as alcohol-containing foods or medicines such as cough syrup.

When should I call my child's health care provider?

Contact your child's health care provider if:

  • Your child is very dizzy or sleepy.
  • Your child seems over-excited or over-active.
  • Seizures are not being controlled.

Call your child's health care provider immediately if your child:

  • has seizures more often than before
  • has trouble breathing
  • develops a rash
  • is hard to awaken.
Developed by McKesson Corporation.
Published by McKesson Provider Technologies.
Last modified: 2006-09-14
Last reviewed: 2006-08-31
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright 2006 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All Rights Reserved.
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