Link between paracetamol early in life and asthma has been ‘overstated’, say researchers

Researchers have concluded that there is a lack of evidence on a link between paracetamol use early in life and the development of asthma.

Researchers have concluded that the previously reported association between exposure to paracetamol early in life and an increased risk of asthma has been ‘overstated’, and suggest that lung infections could play a bigger role.

The experts reviewed several studies on the subject, the results of which were published in the journal, Archives of Disease in Childhood. They were keen to establish whether infections of the airways, which the drug is often used to treat, were a greater factor.

The researchers found that the studies examining the exposure to paracetamol during pregnancy and the later development of asthma reached a variety of different conclusions, and only one of these studies considered the potential role of lung infections during pregnancy.

Although the review found that paracetamol in the first two years of a child’s life was consistently linked to increased asthma risk, the association was significantly weakened once the presence of infections of the airways was considered.

The researchers concluded that the evidence between use of paracetamol and development of asthma was not strong enough to warrant changes to guidance on the drug.

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Read the abstract of the journal article.

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