Earlier studies have suggested that the frequent use of the drug acetaminophen may worsen asthma in children who have the respiratory condition.
Findings of a new study, however, suggest that the medicine, which is sold under different brand names including Tylenol and Panadol, does not worsen asthma symptoms in young children who take it to relieve pain or fever.
In a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Aug. 18, researchers involved 300 children between 1 and 5 years old with mild, persistent asthma. These children exhibit symptoms more than two days in a week but not every day.
The children involved in the study also used asthma control therapies, which include daily inhaled glucocorticoids, daily oral leukotriene receptor antagonist and as-needed inhaled glucocorticoids to manage the symptoms of their respiratory condition.
Over the course of the study, the children received either acetaminophen or ibuprofen as treatment for pain or fever. The researchers found that there was no significant differences in the asthma symptoms for both groups of children.
"Among young children with mild persistent asthma, as-needed use of acetaminophen was not shown to be associated with a higher incidence of asthma exacerbations or worse asthma control than was as-needed use of ibuprofen," the researchers wrote in their study.
The researchers said that the result should help address safety concerns related to giving acetaminophen to asthmatic kids. Several retrospective studies appear to indicate that asthma symptoms have worsened in children who received Tylenol for pain or fever.
Findings of a newly published study on pregnant women who take acetaminophen during pregnancy also suggest that taking the pain reliever at 18 to 32 weeks of pregnancy heightens risk of having a child with behavioral problems such as hyperactivity and conduct problems.
The researchers of the study that looked at the potential risks posed by acetaminophen on asthmatic children said that their research has limitations. For one, the study involved young children with mild persistent asthma so their finding may not apply to children belonging to different age groups and those who have more severe forms of asthma.
"We found no matter how you slice it, there was absolutely no difference between Tylenol and Motrin," said study researcher Dr. Wanda Phipatanakul, from Boston Children's Hospital's Division of Allergy and Immunology. "Our findings should alleviate the concerns for safety that were based on observational data."
The researchers said that their findings may help guide the care of children suffering from asthma.