View all news

MRC IEU Research finds stronger evidence for a link between prenatal exposure to paracetamol and the risk of developing asthma

22 February 2016

In a recent study, researchers from the MRC IEU have found stronger evidence for an association between prenatal infant exposure to paracetamol and the risk of developing asthma in childhood. Their findings show that the development of asthma can be linked to exposure to paracetamol rather than a correlation to medical conditions for which paracetamol is used.

Working with researchers from Norway, the team analysed data from 114,500 participants of the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, making this the largest study of its kind. Looking specifically at children aged three and seven they evaluated the likelihood of asthma being as a result of the three most common conditions for which paracetamol is prescribed: pain, fever and influenza. These were examined both with and without exposure to paracetamol.

Their results show that 5.7 percent of children had current asthma at age three and 5.1 percent had asthma at age seven. The team concluded that there is a consistent link between an exposure to paracetamol during pregnancy and children the age of three having asthma.

Furthermore they discovered that the association between exposure to paracetamol and development of asthma was similar whether used for influenza, pain or fever and so could confirm that the association is linked to paracetamol itself and not those conditions for which paracetamol is usually prescribed.

Dr. Maria Magnus, lead author on the paper and researcher at the MRC IEU said that “Uncovering potential adverse effects is of public health importance, as paracetamol is the most commonly used painkiller among pregnant women and infants”. She also stressed that these findings do not presently warrant any changes in the recommendations regarding the use of paracetamol among pregnant women. 

Edit this page