Paracetamol linked to childhood asthma: study

New Zealand researchers have found that young kids given fever medicine Paracetamol are twice as likely to develop asthma. The study is an observational one by the University of Otago Wellington researchers where the team looked at Paracetamol use in 505 infants and 914 five and six-year-olds.

They found that Paracetamol use before 15 months raised the likelihood of asthma by two times and development of allergies by six years of age by three times. By age six, 95 per cent of children were using Paracetamol, significantly increasing the risk of asthma and wheeze.

Study author Julian Crane said, “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.” He could not determine the dose of Paracetamol a child would have to take before becoming more susceptible to asthma or allergies. He added, “It’s difficult to say, it’s over a period rather than any absolute (amount). But we did find a sort of dose-response affect, so the more regularly a child was using it the greater the risk appeared to be.” However he also explained that the effect of the drug is not instantaneous adding, “It’s clearly more subtle, you don’t take it and suddenly get wheezy…(But) the results at this stage are supportive of a role for Paracetamol in asthma and allergic disease.” Guidelines for its use were not clear, he said.

The study has recently been published in Clinical and Experimental Allergy. This study has been funded by the Health Research Council and the David and Cassie Anderson bequest.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

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