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New Study Concludes Tylenol Does Not Cause Asthma

By HERWriter Blogger
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tylenol not a cause of asthma according to study Serhiy Kobyakov/PhotoSpin

Most parents try to avoid unnecessarily medicating their kids. In this day and age there's a pill (or a syrup, or a chewable, or a melting wafer, etc.) for everything. But that does not mean kids should have all of them.

However, there are some medications, pain and fever relievers especially, that are staples for parents with young children. Recently though, there has been an uptick in the number of parents who are choosing not to give their kids over-the-counter pain medications, like Tylenol or Advil, because they feared it caused asthma.

Some observational studies were done in the past that led parents to believe this, but new research has concluded otherwise.

In a study released Monday May 27, 2013, at a meeting of the American Thoracic Society in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, researchers presented their findings that Tylenol and other over-the-counter pain medications are not the cause of increase in asthma in children.

They concluded that children with respiratory infections, which could be precursors to asthma, were prescribed pain medication more than those without a history of respiratory problems.

The respiratory infections and the fevers they cause are responsible for the increased asthma risk, researchers found. The observational studies, particularly the 2008 study conducted n New Zealand, did not take into account respiratory infections as the root of increased asthma risk.

Dr. Augusto Litonjua, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital and one of the authors of the study explained the findings in simplistic terms.

“We showed that children who took acetaminophen and ibuprofen in the first year of life had higher risks of developing asthma later on. But when we accounted for their concomitant respiratory infections, the effects were no longer significant.”

This study examined data on 1200 women and their young children, from pregnancy through their first years of life. The researchers focused on how frequently the women used over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen, either for themselves or for their children.

They then investigated any diagnosis of asthma or wheezing symptoms as the years passed as well as noting respiratory infections, like pneumonia and bronchitis, that the children developed in their first few years.

While noting that the association between asthma and acetaminophen should be researched further, Dr. Litonjua believes parents who were worried about this issue can now breathe a little easier.

He said the new findings are significant enough to reassure parents that giving children the recommended amounts of acetaminophen, and not exceeding those amounts, probably will not have as big an effect on their risk for developing asthma later in life as was previously thought.


NYTimes.com. Web. Published 28 May 2013. "Pain relievers do not cause asthma study finds".

NYTimes.com. Web. Published 8 October 2008. "Children: Acetaminophen in Babies May Raise Risks".

Reviewed May 29, 2013
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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