An association between asthma and acetaminophen use was first reported in a 2000 study from England. Since then, more than 15 studies have confirmed that both adults and children who take acetaminophen are more likely to have a diagnosis of asthma or exhibit asthma symptoms.
Still, epidemiologists have been reluctant to conclude that acetaminophen causes asthma and generally have not recommended changes in practice. A few have recommended that asthmatics limit acetaminophen use until the relationship between this common analgesic/antipyretic and asthma is clarified by a randomized clinical trial.
This article focuses on the possibility that acetaminophen might increase airway inflammation in individuals with asthma or a predisposition to asthma, thereby contributing to the severity and frequency of symptoms. (See related article in the December issue of Pediatrics, http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/doi/10.1542/peds.2011-1106.)
Six studies in adults published since 2000 involving 90,000 subjects have a pooled increased odds ratio for asthma of...