Is Acetaminophen Causing Asthma?

What possibly could be the cause of the dramatic worldwide increase in childhood asthma over the past 30 years? Researchers have been trying to puzzle out an answer to this question, with ideas running the gamut from improved hygiene to immunizations. Over the last ten years, however, a new idea has emerged according to a recent article, Studies Suggest an Acetaminophen-Asthma Link, in The New York Times.

Some researchers have noted that the asthma epidemic grew rapidly in the 1980s at the same time that aspirin was linked to Reye’s syndrome in children. Doctors stopped prescribing aspirin to children with fevers, opting instead for acetaminophen. And many parents began reaching for the acetaminophen at the first sign of a fever. In a paper published in The Annals of Allergy and Asthma Immunology in 1998, Dr. Arthur Varner, then a fellow in the immunology training program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, proposed that the change to acetaminophen might have fueled the increase in asthma.

In the meantime, more than 20 studies have produced results in support of his theory, notes The Times, including a large analysis of data on more than 200,000 children that found an increased risk of asthma among children who had taken acetaminophen. Many of these studies have had pretty convincing results. For example, a study published in The Lancet in 2008 looked at data gathered on more than 205,000 children from 31 countries as part of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (the Isaac study). This study found that children who had taken acetaminophen during their first six months of life had a 50 percent greater risk of developing asthma symptoms, as opposed to 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 three-times greater risk of asthma symptoms.

“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,” said Dr. John T. McBride of Children’s Hospital, “I think the burden of proof is now to show that it’s safe.”

Related:

Winter, Kids & Asthma
Could You Have Adult-Onset Asthma?

 

53 comments

Aud Nordby
Aud nordby3 years ago

ty

Donna Hamilton
Donna Hamilton3 years ago

Thanks for the info.

J.L. A.
JL A.3 years ago

worth pondering and investigating

Susan A.
Susan A.4 years ago

Hmmm....so hard to know what's best approach...more research needs to happen in natural remedies in my opinion....or make Chinese medicine approaches more affordable for those of us Western types that Know it works from experience!

Jane Barton
Jane Barton4 years ago

Oh, PLEASE, Tylenol causes liver damage, not ASTHMA. 160,000 women and children a year die of SECOND HAND SMOKE from CIGARETTES. Asthma is TROUBLE BREATHING, SMOKE CAUSES TROUBLE BREATHING. COULD THERE BE A CONNECTION? Duuuhhh.

Jane Barton
Jane Barton4 years ago

Oh, PLEASE, Tylenol causes liver damage, not ASTHMA. 160,000 women and children a year die of SECOND HAND SMOKE from CIGARETTES. Asthma is TROUBLE BREATHING, SMOKE CAUSES TROUBLE BREATHING. COULD THERE BE A CONNECTION? Duuuhhh.

Jane Barton
Jane Barton4 years ago

Oh, PLEASE, Tylenol causes liver damage, not ASTHMA. 160,000 women and children a year die of SECOND HAND SMOKE from CIGARETTES. Asthma is TROUBLE BREATHING, SMOKE CAUSES TROUBLE BREATHING. COULD THERE BE A CONNECTION? Duuuhhh.

Edith B.
Edith B.4 years ago

Inconclusive is what I got from this article.

Lika S.
Lika S.4 years ago

I guess I would need a stronger case study. I'm not sure if ibuprofen lowers high fevers as well. To prevent seizures, acetaminophen would be very helpful. Then there are other triggers, such as do the parents smoke? Do they live in a large city like Tokyo? Are there coal or other big plants such as the electric company that utilizes a LOT of coal that operates near by? All of these things can contribute greatly, and yet they don't talk about how these situations affect whether or not the children used acetaminophen more or less than others.

Vivianne Mosca-Clark

humm

how about all the pollution we live around? off gassing from rugs, furniture, paint, plastics, house cleaners, over processed foods, fumes from coal,gas,tires on black top......there is so much you can chose from to cause health problems, that one can't be doing it all.