Paracetamol & asthma?

2008-09-19--Annabel On The Swings Beasley et al. are reporting in the Lancet a link between paracetamol use and the onset of asthma after studying 205,487 children aged 6–7. Use of paracetamol for fever in babies was linked to a dose-dependent increase in the risk of developing asthma symptoms by the age of 6-7.
The link doesn’t necessarily mean that paracetamol causes asthma and the BBC reports that, “Researchers do not know if the drug directly increases asthma risk or another underlying factor is to blame.”
“Increasing use of paracetamol in children has coincided with rising cases of asthma over the past 50 years, the researchers said”, however.
“One explanation for the findings is that paracetamol may cause changes in the body that leave a child more vulnerable to inflammation and allergies.
“Another is that the use of paracetamol in children may be a marker for something else which is causing increased rates of asthma, such as lifestyle issues or the underlying infection causing the fever, experts said.
“Study leader Professor Richard Beasley from the University of Auckland said: “We stress the findings do not constitute a reason to stop using paracetamol in childhood.
“However the findings do lend support to the current guidelines of the World Health Organization, which recommend that paracetamol should be reserved for children with a high fever (38.5C or above).”
Interesting stuff.
Lancet abstract (free registration required).
BBC article.