Stronger evidence found for link between prenatal exposure to paracetamol and the risk of developing asthma

February 9, 2016
Tylenol 500 mg capsules. Credit: Wikipedia

Researchers have provided new evidence that developing asthma can be linked to pregnant women and infants being exposed to paracetamol; by testing that the association was not simply due to the medical complaint for which the person is taking paracetamol. The findings were published today (Wednesday) in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

Co-author of the study, Maria Magnus, commented that: "uncovering potential adverse effects is of public health importance, as is the most commonly used painkiller among and infants."

Using data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, researchers in Norway and Bristol compared associations between several conditions during (with and without the use of paracetamol) and asthma developing in the 114,500 children in the study. They examined asthma outcomes at ages three and seven and evaluated the likelihood of the association being as a result of the three most common triggers for paracetamol use in pregnancy: pain, fever, and influenza.

The results showed that 5.7 per cent of the children had current asthma at age three, and 5.1 per cent had asthma at age seven. The research found a consistent link between children having asthma at age three and having been exposed to paracetamol during pregnancy. The strongest association was seen if the mother used paracetamol during pregnancy for more than one complaint with a child having asthma at three years old.

Overall, the findings indicated that prenatal paracetamol exposure showed an independent association with asthma development. The association was similar whether used for influenza, fever, or pain. Although there have been previous studies on the association between paracetamol exposure and asthma development, this study had the opportunity to account for various common complaints during pregnancy, which allowed the associations to be confirmed as being linked to the paracetamol itself and not to the condition which triggered paracetamol use itself influencing offspring .

The study, the largest of its kind, also cemented previous studies as it found no strong evidence for an association between maternal paracetamol use outside pregnancy or paternal paracetamol use with in offspring. This supported the conclusion that the results were not caused by underlying characteristics or health behaviours shared by the parents. However, the authors were keen to stress that findings from the study do not presently warrant any changes in the recommendations regarding the use of paracetamol among pregnant women.

Explore further: Reported link between early life exposure to paracetamol and asthma 'overstated'

More information: Prenatal and infant paracetamol exposure and development of asthma: the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study; Maria C. Magnus, Oystein Karlstad, Siri E. Haberg, Per Nafstad, George Davey Smith, and Wenche Nystad; International Journal of Epidemiology; DOI: 10.1093/ije/dyv366

Related Stories

Reported link between early life exposure to paracetamol and asthma 'overstated'

November 25, 2014
Respiratory infections are likely to have an influential role, the findings suggest. And the evidence is simply not strong enough to warrant changes to current guidance on the use of this medicine, say the researchers.

Acetaminophen provides no benefits against the flu

December 7, 2015
Some doctors may recommend that patients with the flu take acetaminophen, or paracetemol, to relieve their symptoms; however, a new randomized clinical trial found no benefits to the over-the-counter medication in terms of ...

Paracetamol in pregnancy may lower testosterone in unborn boys

May 20, 2015
Prolonged paracetamol use by pregnant women may reduce testosterone production in unborn baby boys, research has found.

New study on neurodevelopmental effects of prenatal exposure to paracetamol

October 29, 2013
Paracetamol (acetaminophen) is the most commonly used medicine in pregnancy, yet there are very few studies that have investigated the possible long-term consequences for the child. A new study from the Norwegian Institute ...

Recommended for you

Targeting 'broken' metabolism in immune cells reduces inflammatory disease

July 12, 2017
The team, led by researchers at Imperial College London, Queen Mary University of London and Ergon Pharmaceuticals, believes the approach could offer new hope in the treatment of inflammatory conditions like arthritis, autoimmune ...

A perturbed skin microbiome can be 'contagious' and promote inflammation, study finds

June 29, 2017
Even in healthy individuals, the skin plays host to a menagerie of bacteria, fungi and viruses. Growing scientific evidence suggests that this lively community, collectively known as the skin microbiome, serves an important ...

Inflammatory bowel disease: Scientists zoom in on genetic culprits

June 28, 2017
Scientists have closed in on specific genes responsible for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) from a list of over 600 genes that were suspects for the disease. The team from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and their collaborators ...

Trials show unique stem cells a potential asthma treatment

June 28, 2017
A study led by scientists at Monash University has shown that a new therapy developed through stem cell technology holds promise as a treatment for chronic asthma.

Researchers find piece in inflammatory disease puzzle

May 23, 2017
Inflammation is the process by which the body responds to injury or infection but when this process becomes out of control it can cause disease. Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) researchers, in collaboration with ...

Researchers reveal potential target for the treatment of skin inflammation in eczema and psoriasis

May 22, 2017
Superficially, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis may appear similar but their commonalities are only skin deep. Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is primarily driven by an allergic reaction, while psoriasis is considered ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.