Review examines link between paracetamol use and asthma

The use of paracetamol (molecular structure pictured) during pregnancy and early life has been linked to the development of asthma

Use of paracetamol in pregnancy and early life is implicated as a possible cause of asthma. The association is explored in a systematic review and meta-analysis published in Archives of Diseases in Childhood (online, 26 November 2014)[1]

An analysis of 11 observational cohort studies confirmed an association between paracetamol exposure in the first trimester of pregnancy and childhood asthma (odds ratio [OR] 1.39). However, there was substantial variation among the studies and only one adjusted for maternal respiratory tract infections — a potential confounder. Meta-analysis also confirmed a positive association between paracetamol use during infancy and childhood asthma (OR 1.15), but the association disappeared (OR 1.06) after adjusting for respiratory tract infections.

“There is insufficient evidence to warrant changing guidelines on early life paracetamol exposure at this time,” the researchers conclude.


[1] Cheelo M, Lodge CJ, Dharmage SC et al. Paracetamol exposure in pregnancy and early childhood and development of childhood asthma: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Archives of Disease in Childhood 2014. doi:10.1136/archdischild-2012-303043.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, 20/27 December 2014, Vol 293, No 7841/2;293(7841/2):DOI:10.1211/PJ.2014.20067329

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