Mothers Use of Acetaminophen May Raise Child’s Asthma Risk

Another report has surfaced linking children exposed to <"">acetaminophen and asthma. In the recent research, Science Daily said the exposure was seen prenatally; asthma symptoms were likely to be seen by the time the children reached age five.

Recently we wrote that acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, was linked to increased asthma risks in adults and children. In that study, said Reuters Health previously, the analysis involved 19 studies and was detailed in the journal CHEST.

The new study involves 300 New York City-dwelling African-American and Dominican Republic children, said Science Daily. The study expanded on earlier research that found a link between pre- and post-natal acetaminophen and asthma. The study is the first of its kind to show the link between asthma and the body’s ability to “detoxify foreign substances,” said Science Daily. Findings appear in this week’s journal Thorax.

The study was conducted by the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and found the link increased with children with a variant of the glutathione S transferase gene, which is involved in foreign substance detoxification, said Science Daily. The variant is most seen in African-American and Hispanic populations. The research points to “less efficient detoxification” as “a mechanism in” the acetaminophen-asthma link, Science Daily noted.

We recently wrote about another study that revealed that acetaminophen could potentially hamper infants’ immune system responses to vaccinations, citing WebMDHealthNews.

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that acetaminophen is safe when taken at recommended levels, we have written about another problem with the medication’s pervasiveness, which can lead to one patient taking a number of acetaminophen-containing medications at the same time, noted Dow Jones, an issue since the 1970s. Acetaminophen is also used in combination with powerful prescription medications such as Vicodin and Percocet. About 100 people die annually from accidental acetaminophen overdoses.

Meanwhile, 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.

In the new study, the team looked at the use of the drug during pregnancy and found 34 percent of mothers reported acetaminophen use during pregnancy and 27 percent of children had wheeze, an asthma symptom, said Science Daily. Children whose mothers took acetaminophen were likelier to wheeze, visit the emergency room for respiratory problems, and develop allergy symptoms, versus children whose mothers did not take acetaminophen, noted Science Daily, explaining that the risk increased with the increased number of days the mother was on the drug. A similar study that took place in the United Kingdom revealed results similar to the Manhattan study, said Science Daily.

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