Acetaminophen May Double Asthma Risk in Teens

We recently wrote that a report linked children exposed to <"">acetaminophen to asthma. Prior research, said Science Daily, found exposure was seen prenatally with asthma evident by the time children reached age five. Now, Science Daily writes that emerging research links acetaminophen to asthma and eczema in teens.

Monthly acetaminophen use in teens appears to more than double asthma risks in teens versus teens who did not use the medication, said Science Daily, which noted that yearly use was linked to a 50 percent increase in asthma risks. The research findings will be published online on the American Thoracic Society’s Web site prior to the print edition of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

“This study has identified that the reported use of acetaminophen in 13- and 14-year-old adolescent children was associated with an exposure-dependent increased risk of asthma symptoms,” said study first author Richard Beasley, M.D., professor of medicine at the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand for the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC), quoted Science Daily.

As part of ISAAC, two written and one video questionnaire were given to over 300,000 13- and 14-year-olds in 113 centers in 50 countries, said Science Daily. The children were asked about acetaminophen use—none; “medium,” at least once in the past year; or “high”, at least once in the past month—and asthma, eczema, and allergy symptoms.

A serious link was found between acetaminophen use and asthma and eczema risks, with so-called medium users experiencing a 43 percent increased risk of asthma and high users seeing a 2.51-increased risk over nonusers, reported Science Daily. The risk of rhino conjunctivitis—allergic nasal congestion—was 38 percent higher for medium and 2.39 times percent higher for high users versus nonusers; eczema’s relative risks were measured at 31 and 99 percent, respectively, said Science Daily.

Another study on a small Ethiopian population revealed a link between asthma and allergies and acetaminophen use, said Science Daily. Study results will be published online in advance of publication of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Another, earlier randomized U.S. study looked at 13- and 14-year-old asthmatics after the children fell ill with fever and experienced a respiratory illness; there was an increased risk of a future outpatient asthma visit, said Science Daily.

It is believed that acetaminophen may have a systemic inflammatory effect, which could increase oxygen stress due to depletion of glutathione-dependent enzymes, which could lead to enhanced TH2 allergic immune responses, wrote Science Daily. Acetaminophen could suppress immune response to, and increase symptomatic illness from, rhinovirus infections, a common cause of severe asthma in children.

Recently we wrote that acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, was linked to increased asthma risks in adults and children based on an analysis involving 19 studies with 300 New York City-dwelling African-American and Dominican Republic children. That research expanded on prior research that found a link between pre- and post-natal acetaminophen and asthma.

Asthma has increased in global prevalence, with some investigators and experts pointing to acetaminophen use as one of the issues adding to the worldwide problem, said Reuters Health previously. Earlier studies found that acetaminophen lowers glutathione, an important antioxidant found in the lungs, a point covered in the prior study and CHEST article, said Reuters.

Another study published in 2008 and involving 200,000 patients, pointed to an increased asthma risk and wheezing incidence in people taking acetaminophen.

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