Acetaminophen May Double Asthma Risk in Kids

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Acetaminophen use may double the asthma risks in kids.

A new study from the American Thoracic Society reports new evidence linking the use of acetaminophen to development of asthma. Dr. Holly Phillips, of WCBS-TV in New York, appeared on "The Early Show" Friday with more on the study.

Researchers gathered information from more than 300,000 kids from 50 countries. They looked at 13 and 14 year olds. They found more than a double increased risk associated with frequent use, which is at least once a month. It also increased risks for eczema, which is basically itchy and scaly skin, and nasal congestion.

This study was not a causal study, but found an association -- a link -- with acetaminophen, which is commonly known as Tylenol, and asthma.

The same authors indicated a possible link between acetaminophen usage in infancy with subsequent increased risk in childhood asthma.

So why do they think taking acetaminophen could cause asthma?

Phillips explained, "Asthma affects one in 20 children, and doctors don't know some people are affected and others aren't. It could be a combination of several factors. The researchers here speculate that the increasing use of acetaminophen may have contributed to the rise of asthma. They think that it may have an inflammatory effect. And as we know, asthma occurs when your airways get constricted. Also, acetaminophen may suppress the immune response to respiratory infections."

So, should you stop giving your child acetaminophen?

Phillips said more research needs to be done before you stop giving your kids products like Tylenol.

Phillips said acetaminophen has been proven to be a safe and effective pain reliever for many years.

She reinforced, "This study found a link -- it was not cause and effect -- this was done by surveys. As always, talk to your pediatrician if you have concerns, especially if your child has had a lot of respiratory illnesses or bouts of wheezing. One asthma specialist we talked to said asthma is mostly genetic, so whether you give your child acetaminophen are not, it may not matter anyways."

Other factor may also increase your child's risk of developing asthma. A family history, such as parents who have asthma, could increase your risk, Phillips said. Additionally, certain allergies, such as food allergies or skin reactions, and environmental factors like pollution and tobacco smoke could contribute to asthma.
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