Acetaminophen And Asthma

February 11, 2010

Over the past 10 years there have been a number of studies published in the medical literature showing an association between the use of acetaminophen and an increased incidence of asthma. 

There are studies that report that the frequent use of acetaminophen in pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of asthma in childhood.  There is a study that reports that the use of acetaminophen in infants is associated with an increased incidence of asthma at 6-7 years of age.  And, there are studies that show that frequent use of acetaminophen in adults is associated with an increased risk of asthma. 

The incidence of asthma has been rising over the past few decades, and the reason for this has been an ongoing area of medical research.  There are several theories for this rise.  The association between acetaminophen use and asthma as shown through these various studies, is particularly interesting in light of the fact that it was in the early 1980’s that acetaminophen and ibuprofen replaced aspirin as therapy for infants and children with fever.   Infants and children stopped receiving aspirin because of an association between aspirin use and a rare, but severe, neurologic and liver disease called Reye’s Syndrome. 

And so, there is evidence that suggests that the use of acetaminophen might be an important risk factor for asthma development.   I think there is a need for more research in this area to both confirm this apparent association, and help explain it.  A better understanding of this is likely to shed significant light on asthma itself and perhaps impact future therapies.

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