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Could acetaminophen usage in childhood lead to asthma?
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The number of people (especially children) afflicted with asthma continues to skyrocket, so it's a bit unusual to have the researchers who may have uncovered a clue in asthma/allergy puzzle less than jubilant about their findings.
The reason behind the trepidation? The possible link for developing asthma was found in acetaminophen, the popular fever and pain-reducer recommended for children in lieu of aspirin which can cause the potentially deadly Reyes Syndrome. "We are saying there may be a(n acetaminophen) link. We don't yet know whether it is causative," said Richard Beasley who led the international study on acetaminophen involving more than 200,000 children in 31 countries.
In the study, parents of children ages 6-7 were asked to fill out a questionnaire regarding their children's history of acetaminophen usage and whether the child had developed asthma or other allergies. The results revealed that children who received acetaminophen for the treatment of fever in the first year of life were, on average, 46 per cent more likely to develop asthma by the age of 6 or 7, compared with infants not given the medication.
However, those involved with the research were quick to point out that the study was far from definitive proof that acetaminophen is behind the recent dearth of asthma cases. "I think there is potential for harm from our findings if we don't get the correct message to the public," Dr. Beasley said.
That message is: acetaminophen remains the safest way to treat children with fevers but parents should still consider it a serious medication.
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