Paracetamol does not worsen lung function of children with asthma

When used during respiratory illness in children, paracetamol is not associated with a higher risk of asthma exacerbations than ibuprofen.

Sick child taking medicine

Observational data have linked paracetamol use with asthma exacerbations, so some clinicians recommend avoiding the drug in children with asthma. However, there are a lack of data from randomised trials and a question remains over which drug to use to treat fever or pain in children with the disease. 

Researchers randomised 300 children with mild persistent asthma to either paracetamol (acetaminophen) or ibuprofen to take when needed for fever or pain over 48 weeks. 

The researchers found that the children tolerated paracetamol without worsening their disease symptoms; children in both groups used asthma rescue therapy to a similar extent.

The results, published in The New England Journal of Medicine (online, 24 August 2016)[1]
, indicate that paracetamol is not associated with a higher risk of asthma exacerbations than ibuprofen when used during respiratory illness.


[1] Sheehan WJ, Mauger DT, Paul IM et al. Acetaminophen versus ibuprofen in young children with mild persistent asthma. New England Journal of Medicine 2016;375:619–630. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1515990

Last updated
Clinical Pharmacist, CP, October 2016, Vol 8, No 10;8(10):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2016.20201715

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