Asthma is an increasingly common condition that affects roughly one in 20 children across the U.S. And frighteningly, health experts don't really know why some people are affected by it while others aren't. It could be genetics, it could be environment, or it could be a combination of these factors.
A new study from the American Thoracic Society lends credence to the theory that asthma is caused by environmental conditions. Their report found new evidence linking the use of acetaminophen to development of asthma.
For the study, researchers gathered information on asthma and acetaminophen use from more than 300,000 kids (13-14 year olds) from 50 countries. They found that frequent use of the drug (amounting to at least once a month) was associated with more than a double increased risk of the development of asthma. Frequent acetaminophen use also increased risks for eczema and nasal congestion.
Researchers are unsure why this link might exist, but in their report they speculated that the use of acetaminophen may have an inflammatory effect or it may suppress the immune response to respiratory infections.
And while they're not rushing to suggest that parents stop giving their kids Tylenol (or other acetaminophen products,) their study certainly indicates that it is worth taking a closer look at the possible health effects of giving this medication to kids.