Children are more likely to develop asthma if their mothers use paracetamol – a common painkiller – during pregnancy, a new study has warned.
Using data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, researchers compared associations between several conditions during pregnancy (with and without the use of paracetamol) and asthma developing in the 114,500 children in the study.
They examined asthma outcomes at ages three and seven and evaluated the likelihood of the association being as a result of the three most common triggers for paracetamol use in pregnancy – pain, fever, and influenza.
“Uncovering potential adverse effects is of public health importance, as paracetamol is the most commonly used painkiller among pregnant women and infants,” said Maria Magnus from the University of Bristol in UK.
Results showed that 5.7 per cent of the children had asthma at age three, and 5.1 per cent had asthma at age seven.
The research found a consistent link between children having asthma at age three and having been exposed to paracetamol during pregnancy.
The strongest association was seen if the mother used paracetamol during pregnancy for more than one complaint with a child having asthma at three years old.
The findings indicated that prenatal paracetamol exposure showed an independent association with asthma development. The association was similar whether used for influenza, fever, or pain.
The research was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.