Paracetamol Increases Asthma Risk in Children

Giving children paracetamol during their first year of life can increase their risk of developing asthma according to new research published in Lancet.

Currently over 2.2 million Australians have asthma and incidence has been increasing over the last 50 years but we don’t exactly know why.

This study found that use of paracetamol in the first year of life and in later childhood, is associated with increased risk of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema at age 6 to 7 years.

The study also found a strong dose-dependent association, as the risk of asthma symptoms was three-fold higher with frequent paracetamol use.

The study included over 200,000 six and seven year-old children from over 30 countries, as part of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) programme.

Exposureto paracetamol during intrauterine life, childhood, and adult life mayincrease the risk of developing asthma. We studied 6–7-year-oldchildren from Phase Three of the International Study of Asthma andAllergies in Childhood (ISAAC) programme to investigate the associationbetween paracetamol consumption and asthma.

 Use of paracetamol was similarly associated with the risk of severe asthma symptoms, with population-attributable risks between 22% and 38%. Paracetamol use, both in the first year of life and in children aged 6–7 years, was also associated with an increased risk of symptoms of rhino conjunctivitis and eczema.

The Authors Interpretation?

Useof paracetamol in the first year of life and in later childhood, isassociated with risk of asthma, rhinoconjunctivitis, and eczema at age6 to 7 years. We suggest that exposure to paracetamol might be a riskfactor for the development of asthma in childhood.

Full Story in The Lancet

Dr. Hooper’s Comment

There is an interesting trend that I am seeing in the practice over the last few years, that really concerns me as a father of five.

It is the ‘get my child out of pain now’ mentality being exhibited by well meaning parents.

It is not uncommon to have a parent demand that as a practitioner, I get their child out of pain now – or they will go somewhere else.

Parents are becoming increasingly insistent that their child ‘does not suffer’.

It could be an ear ache, lower back pain, a headache or shoulder pains.

For example, I consulted with an adolescent that had a mild sprain of his ankle. I provided some treatment, bandaged and stabilised the joint, explained what a sprained ankle was, how it would heal and how to manage the mild sprain.

I also pointed out that because the joint was sprained the child would more than likely be pretty sore for the next few days.

At this point, the parent became increasingly demanding that their son should not feel ANY pain.

She believed that her son should be on voltaren, nurofen plus, panadeine, or at least strong paracetamol.

I tried to explain that perhaps the mild pain associated with a sprained ankle could be a good thing as it encourages the owner to keep off it and let it heal.

I have always under stood pain as being the warning light that something is wrong.

Why have we taken to disconnecting the warning light?

Is it bad for our kids to develop coping strategies in dealing with pain?

Or should we just drug them to the eyeballs to ensure they don’t feel any discomfort whatsoever?

Is learning to deal with pain, and other adversity, part of growing up?

Is dealing with upper respiratory infections good for our immune system or should we take antibiotics – just in case?

So where does it stop in our efforts to protect our children from pain?

Should we give our children ever increasing doses of drug medication – just in case they feel some pain? And how early do we start on the slippery slope of endlessly drugging our children?

It seems that we have come to believe that if our child has hurt themselves and we don’t medicate them straight away we are somehow a ‘bad parent’.

How did this happen?

Isn’t drug advertising great.

If giving children paracetamol increases their incidence of asthma, what do the stronger drugs do to our children’s health?


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