39 Years Unmasking a Monster


In the deep, dark, quietest hour of Palm Sunday in 1973, a sweet, beautiful, and innocent little girl took God’s hand and stepped bravely into heaven.

A year later, another little five year old fought and fought and was given a second chance.  During the year between the two cases, unknown numbers of children died of a mysterious illness.  Doctors were confounded.  Parents grieved, and found no answers.  And children died… and died.

The National Reye’s Syndrome Foundation was founded in 1974 by those two sets of parents whose five year old children were victimized by Reye’s Syndrome with the bold intent of unmasking this horrible monster that terrorized helpless children.  They were committed to finding answers…  A reason.  A reckoning….

Parents who had lost children to Reye’s, and parents whose children miraculously survived Reye’s, began to find one another and the Foundation.  A grass-roots hands-across-the-country movement began to fight back and unravel this mystery and to warn other parents of the beast that stalked their children.

And finally, some few years later after much study and funding of research, epidemiology research connected aspirin (salicylate), combined with a viral infection like flu or chicken pox, with triggering Reye’s Syndrome.

We finally knew what to warn parents not to do; Never give a child under the age of 19 aspirin or aspirin products!

Unfortunately, there is still no cure for Reye’s Syndrome.  There are no tests one can do to pre-determine susceptibility for the disease.

Unfortunately, we still see many parents who do not know about Reye’s Syndrome; they do not know what Reye’s really is or what the symptoms are – they were just told by their doctors not to give children aspirin.  And they are not told that products like Pepto-Bismol, and Alka-Seltzer, and Pamprin and many many other prescription drugs and over the counter medicines contain aspirin (salicylates).

Unfortunately, many breastfeeding moms do not know that aspirin (salicylate) is transferable in breast milk!  Horror!

Unfortunately, many of our tweens and teens self-medicate.  We get those panicked phone calls every day at the Foundation;  “My son just took aspirin for a headache!  Help me – is he going to die?”   Teens share their medications with their friends, unaware that it could kill their friend.

For 39 years we have guarded the lives of children; through research and awareness.  Until we can resolve all of those “unfortunates” listed above, we -have- to remain on mission.  We -have- to continue educating.  We -have- to continue our Awareness Programs.  We -have- to continue to share what we know.

We invite you to participate; to become a guardian angel for children – to spread education and awareness about the dangers and risk of aspirin products to our teens, tweens, new parents, and nursing mothers; in schools, in daycare centers, in church, and at work.

Believe it:  One word of warning does save a child’s life….

Join Us in advocating for healthy children!


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Neem & Margosa Oil

Margosa or Neem Oil

Margosa or Neem oil is a yellow oil with a disagreeable smell and bitter taste that has been used as a medical remedy in India and Southeast Asia for several centuries.  In recent years, there have been rare reports of acute onset of severe metabolic acidosis, hepatic and multiorgan failure and death following ingestion of margosa oil.


Margosa oil is an extract of the seeds of Azadirachta indica, commonly known as the Neem tree native to India and



Sri Lanka.  In low doses, margosa oil has been a traditional remedy for centuries in India and Southeast Asia used in treating asthma, intestinal parasites, arthritis and leprosy.  It is also an insecticide.  The oil has a disagreeable smell and bitter taste attributable to volatile sulphur compounds and fatty acids.   The bitters are secondary products formed during storage of the oil or the seeds and concentrations can vary in different commercial samples.


Margosa oil can cause severe metabolic acidosis and death, particularly in young children.  Symptoms of nausea, vomiting and progressive stupor develop within hours of consumption, followed by severe metabolic acidosis, coma, and progressive hepatic dysfunction, similar to Reye Syndrome.  Serum aminotransferase levels are generally normal or minimally elevated initially, but then rise to high levels accompanied by increases in LDH and CPK levels.  Progressive hepatic encephalopathy and cerebral edema develop within days.   This product contains high levels of salicylates – the same as aspirin.  Therefore, this product could trigger Reye’s Syndrome and should not be given or used by children under the age of 19.

Again, we urge extreme caution in using herbal remedies, and always check for salicylates in any product given to children under the age of 19.











Mechanism of Injury

The mechanism of hepatotoxicity of margosa oil appears to be related to mitochondrial dysfunction and poisoning of the electron transport pathway by a component of margosa oil or a contaminant.  A similar syndrome has been induced in laboratory animals with samples of the implicated oil.

 Other Names:  Neem oil

Other links:

What is Reye’s Syndrome

Aspirin Containing Products

Other Names for Aspirin

Pepto-Bismol and Children

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