Paracetamol links to allergy/asthma in young children, study suggests

November 29, 2010

Links between early paracetamol use and the development of allergies and asthma in five and six year old children have been confirmed by health researchers at the University of Otago, Wellington.

The report by Professor Julian Crane is based on the New Zealand and Allergy Cohort Study. It investigated the use of paracetamol by 505 infants in Christchurch, and 914 five and six year olds in Wellington and Christchurch to see if they developed any signs of asthma or allergic sensitivity. The study has recently been published in Clinical and Experimental Allergy.

“The major finding is that who used paracetamol before the age of 15 months (90%) were more than three times as likely to become sensitized to allergens and twice as likely to develop symptoms of asthma at six years old than children not using paracetamol,” says Professor Crane.

“However at present we don’t know why this might be so. We need clinical trials to see whether these associations are causal or not, and to clarify the use of this common medication.”

The research also found that by six years 95% of the study sample were using paracetamol and there was a significant increased risk for current asthma and wheeze. However the findings depended on how much paracetamol was being used, with the risk greater for those with severe asthma symptoms.

“The results at this stage are supportive of a role for paracetamol in asthma and allergic disease,” says Professor Crane.

However there may be many different mechanisms operating in the links between paracetamol and allergy/asthma researchers say. For instance it has been shown that fever in infancy may reduce allergy in childhood, and that paracetamol may affect antigen processing in the immune system early in life, or may be linked to free radical damage and enhancement of allergic inflammation and bronchospasm.

The University of Otago study concludes that although direct causation between paracetamol and allergy/asthma has not been established, neither has been shown to have a beneficial effect on disease outcomes when used against fever, and guidelines for its use are unclear.

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8 comments

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HoboWhisperer
5 / 5 (5) Nov 29, 2010
An added tidbit: Paracetamol = Tylenol.
That makes this a bit more interesting, since doctors routinely say that Tylenol is fine for kids.
otto1932
1 / 5 (2) Nov 29, 2010
An added tidbit: Paracetamol = Tylenol.
That makes this a bit more interesting, since doctors routinely say that Tylenol is fine for kids.
They do make a childrens Tylenol.
http://www.tyleno...main.inc
lengould100
5 / 5 (2) Nov 29, 2010
With "90% useage by age 6" is seems it must be difficult to establish a causal link. However, it does clearly reinforce the canard "Never medicate with anything unless absolutely necessary and definitively proven to cause significant benefit. Goes double (at least) for children, multiple times for infants."

Many non-prescription "medications" are designed by the manufacturers only to give relief to the parents, eg. advertisements of magical benefits for questionable compounds in tiny, clearly ineffective (for the advertised purpose) dosages which may nonetheless cause other problems (alergies perhaps?).
satyricon
not rated yet Nov 29, 2010
"..neither has paracetamol been shown to have a beneficial effect on disease outcomes when used against fever.."

Really?? This is hard to believe.
HoboWhisperer
not rated yet Nov 29, 2010
They do make a childrens Tylenol.
http://www.tyleno...main.inc

That is true, they do. It looks like the active ingredient is still Acetaminophen though:
http://www.tyleno...subpinf#
Bob_Kob
not rated yet Nov 30, 2010
I don't understand why children need to take panadol at that age, its not like they'll remember the pain...
Skepticus
4.5 / 5 (2) Nov 30, 2010
Keep the kids hooked on paracetamol early by brainwashing parents to never bother to spend more than 5 minutes poping the pill into the kid mouths and free them to watch TV. Then you can sell them asthma drugs for years to come. Make sure that any reports of alternative remedies and lifestyle changes that contradicts your markeing efforts should be buried with an avalanche of questions and doubts and non-peer-reviewed mantra. After all, pharmatical bussiness is a cut throat business.
fixer
not rated yet Nov 30, 2010
@Skepticus,
Sad but true!

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