A new study suggests that pregnant women who take paracetamol may be putting their baby at risk of developing childhood asthma.

Researchers from the University of Bristol in the UK have also uncovered that babies who were also given paracetamol were almost a third more likely to develop asthma.

The study, which was the largest of its kind, involved tracking children until the age of seven from almost 115,000 pregnancies.  It revealed the strongest association of asthma development by age three was seen when a mother used paracetamol during pregnancy for more than one illness, and when the babies in infanthood themselves were given paracetamol.

The use of the drug during pregnancy increased the risk of asthma development by almost 13 per cent.

Children who were given paracetamol during infancy were 29 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with asthma by the age of three, with a similar rate at age seven.

The researchers found “modest associations” between the use of paracetamol and childhood asthma, both for use during pregnancy and use by the child during the first six months of life.

The National Asthma Council Australia told News.com.au that the findings of the study should not alarm pregnant women and mothers.  No new guidelines have been implemented for paracetamol use as yet.

“The study is interesting, because paracetamol is so commonly used during pregnancy,” Dr Burdon told news.com.au. “The general feeling about paracetamol is that it’s safe to use during pregnancy, but with any other medication during that time, we recommend taking it only when needed.

“I don’t think this study will change recommendations as it’s only one study,” Dr Burdon said. “We have a 12 per cent rate of asthma in Australia, which is very high on world standards. The reason for that is not really known and there’s a number of theories.

“But as for paracetamol, as with any medicine during pregnancy, it should be taken on a needs basis, but not just because you ‘might’ require it.  Expecting mothers should consult their doctor if they are ill or require further medical advice.”


Image source: Shutterstock

  • wow that is something that definately needs more looking into.


  • An interesting article, which is probably worth further research and reading.


  • gosh I have not heard of this.


  • wow – this is a scary one, it is such a common drug!


  • What an interesting read, something to keep in mind


  • Great – another thing to worry about!


  • Very interesting. I wonder if they have studied how often it was taken


  • Wow, new advise everyday. I guess that’s the thing with research and it’s findings. I was always told paracetamol is safe during pregnancy.


  • Interesting. Im an Asthma sufferer but I cant say if my Mother ever took paracetamol while pregnant with me.
    I have three children and I did not take paracetamol at all while pregnant with either of them and my youngest has problems with mild Asthma.
    It might increase the risk but I dont think its the 100% cause at all.


  • Another thing to worry about when you’re pregnant. I know that some people just can’t suffer through the pain of headaches and migraines.


  • Interesting. I googled paracetamol quite a bit when I was first pregnant 4 years ago, & found some suggestions it could also decrease fertility in the babies, mostly if they were boys. So I guess it\’s been known for awhile that it\’s not necessarily as safe as what we\’re led to believe. Always best to do a quick search rather than just go with the flow :)


  • This is very interesting, Before this paracetamol seemed to be the only thing WAS safe to take during pregnancy so no it looks like there may no longer be anything.


  • That’s really interesting – I really tried to push through pain when pregnant – didn’t know this was a positive outcome of doing so.


  • Oh my! The best thing would be not to take any medication during pregnancy, but paracetamol has always being considered quite safe. Better be careful!


  • Lke kz


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