A worrying new trend on social media is encouraging children to take quantities of paracetamol and upload their pictures to networks such as Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #ParacetamolChallenge.
It reportedly encourages children to abuse over-the-counter painkillers and an East Midlands GP has warned against anyone considering taking part, stating just how dangerous taking the tablets in excess can be.
The craze appears to have been started in Scotland where an Ayrshire boy was hospitalised earlier this month after it was believed he took part in the cult, which follows the ‘neck-nomination’ and ice bucket challenge which were popular last year.
GP Ian Campbell warned: “Paracetamol is a lethal drug and those who use it should never exceed the daily recommended dose. The safest way to take it is under prescription.
“One of the dangers of using the drug in excess is that signs of excessive use are not obvious straight away.
“My advice is simple, don’t do it!
“Over use can cause acute liver failure and irreparable damage and while there are doubts over the long term impact of taking the drugs, paracetamol should be treated with respect.”
Taking the drug too often can also cause haemorrhaging and brain damage.
Parents have been advised to be aware of what their children are involved in on social media, be “discreet” and “intercept” should they suspect that their children could be engaged in anything that could be potentially harmful.
Speaking to ITV News, Alan Ward, head of schools at East Ayrshire Council said: “We have been communicating with parents, encouraging them to monitor their child’s safety on social media.
“We are urging parents to talk to their children about the potential dangers of taking paracetamol, and to discourage their children from engaging in any online activity in support of this dangerous craze.”