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.

The use of paracetamol during pregnancy and/or a child's early life has been implicated in the development of childhood asthma, prompting concerns to be raised about the drug's continued use during these periods.

The researchers wanted to find out if the available evidence was sufficient to rule out the role of common respiratory infections, which paracetamol is often used to treat, and which are themselves risk factors for the development of asthma.

They therefore trawled research databases for published evidence, spanning a period from 1967 to 2013. Out of the 1192 potentially relevant studies, 11 were suitable for inclusion in the analysis.

The seven studies covering the potential link between exposure to paracetamol while in the womb and subsequent childhood asthma reached widely varying conclusions, and only one took account of the potential role of respiratory infections during pregnancy.

Six of the studies looked at exposure to paracetamol during the first two years of life--a critical period for lung development.

Although these studies consistently pointed to a link between the drug and the development of asthma, the association was considerably weakened after respiratory tract infections during infancy had been accounted for.

And while a link was found between the number of times a child had been given paracetamol and that child's asthma risk, this link all but disappeared when respiratory tract infections were taken into consideration, "making it unlikely that paracetamol is a clinically important risk factor asthma," write the authors.

It remains unclear what role, if any, maternal respiratory infection during pregnancy might have, as only one study took this into account.

A proper trial looking at the influence of paracetamol on the development of asthma is highly unlikely as it would require some babies to be given a dummy pill, which many parents would not be willing to do, say the authors.

All in all, the current evidence for a link between the drug's use and the development of asthma is "weak," they say.

And they conclude: "The evidence of an association between early life paracetamol and asthma is often overstated, and there is currently insufficient evidence to support changing guidelines in the use of this medicine."
-end-


BMJ

Related Asthma Articles from Brightsurf:

Breastfeeding and risks of allergies and asthma
In an Acta Paediatrica study, exclusive breastfeeding for the first 3 months was linked with a lower risk of respiratory allergies and asthma when children reached 6 years of age.

Researchers make asthma breakthrough
Researchers from Trinity College Dublin have made a breakthrough that may eventually lead to improved therapeutic options for people living with asthma.

Physics vs. asthma
A research team from the MIPT Center for Molecular Mechanisms of Aging and Age-Related Diseases has collaborated with colleagues from the U.S., Canada, France, and Germany to determine the spatial structure of the CysLT1 receptor.

New knowledge on the development of asthma
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have studied which genes are expressed in overactive immune cells in mice with asthma-like inflammation of the airways.

Eating fish may help prevent asthma
A scientist from James Cook University in Australia says an innovative study has revealed new evidence that eating fish can help prevent asthma.

Academic performance of urban children with asthma worse than peers without asthma
A new study published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology shows urban children with poorly controlled asthma, particularly those who are ethnic minorities, also suffer academically.

Asthma Controller Step Down Yardstick -- treatment guidance for when asthma improves
The focus for asthma treatment is often stepping up treatment, but clinicians need to know how to step down therapy when symptoms improve.

Asthma management tools improve asthma control and reduce hospital visits
A set of comprehensive asthma management tools helps decrease asthma-related visits to the emergency department, urgent care or hospital and improves patients' asthma control.

Asthma linked to infertility but not among women taking regular asthma preventers
Women with asthma who only use short-acting asthma relievers take longer to become pregnant than other women, according to research published in the European Respiratory Journal.

What are the best ways to diagnose and manage asthma?
A team of experts from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston examined the current information available from many different sources on diagnosing and managing mild to moderate asthma in adults and summarized them.

Read More: Asthma News and Asthma Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.