No Link Between Acetaminophen in Pregnancy, Asthma in Kids: Study

Once childhood respiratory illnesses were factored out, the pain relievers had little impact, researchers say

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 26, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Taking acetaminophen, best known as Tylenol, during pregnancy or giving it to young children does not raise the risk of childhood asthma, a new study finds.

Concerns have been raised that the use of acetaminophen during pregnancy and/or early in a child's life may be associated with the development of asthma.

But the study authors say that respiratory infections during infancy probably play a much more significant role in the later development of asthma, and there's no need to change current recommendations about the use of acetaminophen.

The study was led by Dr. Adrian Lowe at the University of Australia, in Melbourne. His team analyzed data from 11 studies conducted on the potential link between the use of acetaminophen by pregnant women and during the first two years of a child's life -- a critical time in the development of young lungs.

While the studies found a link between acetaminophen and childhood asthma, the association was much weaker after the researchers accounted for respiratory tract infections (colds, flu) during infancy.

The findings suggest that acetaminophen is not an important risk factor for childhood asthma, according to the study, which was published Nov. 25 in the BMJ.

The role that respiratory infections in mothers during pregnancy might play in a child's risk of developing asthma remains unclear, the researchers said.

"The evidence of an association between early-life [acetaminophen] and asthma is often overstated, and there is currently insufficient evidence to support changing guidelines in the use of this medicine," Lowe's team concluded.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about childhood asthma.

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