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Children With Asthma Should Avoid Acetaminophen, Study Suggests | Daytona Beach Child Injury Lawyer

Children With Asthma Should Avoid Acetaminophen, Study Suggests

Children with asthma or at risk for asthma should avoid the use of acetaminophen, according to a new study.

Acetaminophen is the over-the-counter medication often used to treat children with fevers and other cold symptoms.

Dr. John T. McBride, a pediatrician at Akron Children’s Hospital in Ohio, published a paper in the journal Pediatrics suggesting the link between asthma and acetaminophen is now strong enough for doctors to make the recommendation against this medication being used for children with asthma or those at risk for asthma.

In the journal article, McBride lists a various observations that suggest that acetaminophen use has contributed to the recent increase in asthma prevalence in children:

  • The strength of the association;
  • Consistency of the association across age, geography, and culture;
  • Dose-response relationship;
  • Timing of increased acetaminophen use and the asthma epidemic;
  • The relationship between per-capita sales of acetaminophen and asthma prevalence across countries;
  • Results of a double-blind trial of ibuprofen and acetaminophen for treatment of fever in asthmatic children;
  • The biologically plausible mechanism of glutathione depletion in airway mucosa.

One of the studies McBride points to is a previous study that shows taking acetaminophen increases airway inflammation in people with asthma or a predisposition to asthma contributing to the severity and frequency of symptoms.

He also points to a third phase of the International Study of Allergy and Asthma in Childhood, a large cross-cultural study that involved 122 centers in 54 countries. Each study site enrolled at least 1,000 children. The researchers identified children with asthma and wheezing symptoms and also collected data on acetaminophen exposure and other environmental factors that could contribute to the severity of asthma.

Data were available for 200,000 children aged 6 to 7 years and for 320,000 children aged 13 to 14 years. Nearly 30 percent of all 13- to 14-year-olds reported taking acetaminophen at least once per month. In both age groups there was an acetaminophen dose-dependent increase in the prevalence and severity of asthma.

In both age groups, the link between asthma and acetaminophen was identified at almost all sites regardless of culture, geography, or stage of economic development. For each age cohort, the researchers calculated a population-attributable risk (PAR) for acetaminophen exposure. This parameter estimates the reduction in incidence of asthma or asthma symptoms that would occur in the entire population if exposure to acetaminophen were eliminated, assuming that acetaminophen does exacerbate asthma.

For children ages 6- to 7, the PAR for severe asthma symptoms related to acetaminophen exposure was 38 percent; for 13- to 14-year-olds, the PAR for current wheeze was 41 percent and for severe asthma symptoms was 43 percent.

Until future studies document the safety of this drug, McBride said children with asthma or at risk for asthma should avoid the use of acetaminophen.

“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,” Dr. McBride told the New York Times for an article. “I think the burden of proof is now to show that it’s safe.”

For more on child medical issues, see the library of articles by Daytona Beach child injury attorney.


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