Dr. Sally Eyers and co-researchers from the
Medical Research Institute of New Zealand in Wellington conducted a systematic
review and meta-analysis of studies that looked into prenatal exposure of paracetamol
and its link with asthma in children. The primary outcome in the reviewed
studies was wheezing in the past 12 months. Researchers pooled results from six
studies that analyzed the link between paracetamol during pregnancy and asthma
The children roped in for the study were aged 30
to 84 months. The studies noted variable effects on timing of paracetamol consumption during pregnancy
For example, the Danish National Birth Cohort Study found the highest risk during the first trimester of
wherein the Dominican and African American Birth Cohort Study
showed greater risk in the second and
, while the United States Cohort Study noted a greater risk
in only third trimester.
Methodological shortcomings of the study were
that it used unadjusted and raw data. Also, adjusted results of source studies
were not comparable as they adjusted it for varying confounders. Therefore, the
result of the meta-analysis could be affected by early-life respiratory tract
disease, maternal smoking, breast-feeding status, gestational age, pet
ownership, and social status.
The conclusion is that the study did find a link between taking
paracetamol during pregnancy and an increased risk of asthma in children. However,
the link is not very strong, and the study only indicates but does not prove
that paracetamol causes asthma.
Dr. Eyers, the main author writes, "More
research is urgently required to determine the impact of paracetamol during
pregnancy on the risk of wheezing in offspring so that appropriate public
health recommendations can be made."
Still, the statuary advice remains the same to avoid the use of all
medications during pregnancy. If the need is unavoidable, consultation with the doctor is a must. Pregnant women using paracetamol are advised
to take the lowest dose possible for the shortest period of time, in order to
minimize risks to their baby.