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Studies Suggest an Acetaminophen (alternatively paracetamol) and Asthma Link

In November, Dr. John T. McBride, a pediatrician at Akron Children’s Hospital in Ohio, published a paper in the journal Pediatrics arguing that the evidence for a link between acetaminophen and asthma is now strong enough for doctors to recommend that infants and children who have asthma (or are at risk for the disease) avoid acetaminophen.  Even a single dose of acetaminophen can reduce the body’s levels of glutathione, an enzyme that helps repair oxidative damage that can drive inflammation in the airways, researchers have found.

A statistical link between acetaminophen and asthma has turned up in studies of infants, children and adults. Studies have also found an increased risk of asthma in children whose mothers who took acetaminophen during pregnancy.

According to the Isaac study, the 2008 analysis found that children who had taken acetaminophen for a fever during the first year of life had a 50 percent greater risk of developing asthma symptoms, compared with children who had not taken the drug. The risk rose with increasing use — children who had taken acetaminophen at least once a month had a threefold increase in the risk of asthma symptoms.

A study published by British researchers in 2000 using data from the Isaac study found that the prevalence of asthma increased in lock step with sales of acetaminophen in the 36 countries examined. The more acetaminophen used in a country, the greater that country’s prevalence of asthma.


Not to suggest 100 percent certainty, however Dr. McBride advises that while “I cannot say with 100 percent certainty that acetaminophen makes asthma worse, but I can say that if I had a child with asthma, I would give him or her ibuprofen for the time being, I think the burden of proof is now to show that it’s safe.”

Some common drugs that contain Acetaminophen (called paracetamol in other parts)  include – Tylenol, calpol, paracetamol, panadol. Drugs that contain Ibuprofren are – Calprofen (which is Calpol with ibuprofren), nurofen etc. Note that you should always check the ingredients to confirm what it contains and always discuss with your doctor.

Common childhood asthma signs and symptoms include: Frequent, intermittent coughing, A whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling, Shortness of breath,Chest congestion or tightness, Chest pain, particularly in younger children. Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing, Bouts of coughing or wheezing that get worse with a respiratory infection, such as a cold or the flu, Delayed recovery or bronchitis after a respiratory infection, Trouble breathing that may limit play or exercise,Fatigue, which can be caused by poor sleep. For more information on childhood asthma symptoms, causes, treatments and more, read here

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source: New york times at

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