Tylenol Asthma Risk Identified Among Teenagers: Study

Teenagers who take Tylenol or other acetaminophen-based drugs at least once a month are more than twice as likely to have asthma than those that do not, according to a newly published study. 

The study was published online by the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, suggesting a connection between the side effects of acetaminophen and other allergic conditions such as the skin disorder eczema and allergic nasal conditions. The study was conducted by researchers who are part of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood.

The researchers collected data on 322,959 adolescent children ages 13 and 14 in 50 different countries. They found that those who took Tylenol once per month were 2.5 times as likely to have asthma as those who did not. Those who took Tylenol only about once per year were 40% more likely. Once-per-month users were also twice as likely to have eczema as well as persistent stuffy noses and water eyes.

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However, the researchers said that the study does not prove that Tylenol causes asthma. In some cases, it could be that children are taking Tylenol to alleviate symptoms. However, the researchers say that the results strongly suggest that there may be a connection. They recommend that randomized controlled trials be performed to determine whether there is a causal connection.

The researchers said parents should not stop giving their children Tylenol without talking to their doctors first.

The study comes as the makers of Tylenol, Johnson & Johnson, have fallen under close scrutiny for their manufacturing practices following two massive drug recalls, including children’s Tylenol, in less than a year.

The largest was the McNeil Healthcare children’s medication recall on April 30, that affected 40 different liquid medication products, including Tylenol, Benadryl, Motrin, and Zyrtec. McNeil is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. That recall pulled 136 million bottles of children’s medication off shelves and resulted in the shutdown of the company’s Ft. Washington, Pennsylvania plant, and the suspension of the production of all of McNeil’s children medications.

Following that recall, the FDA has received nearly 800 complaints, including at least seven reports of deaths associated with the medication. However, the FDA says its investigations so far have not directly linked any of the recalled products to any of the deaths.

The liquid drug recall followed a recall of numerous lots of McNeil Consumer Healthcare pills, including Tylenol and Motrin, which were contaminated by a chemical called 2,4,6-tribromoanisole, or TBA, which is used as a pesticide on the wood pallets used to ship the drugs.

Some lawmakers, who have started a congressional investigation into Johnson & Johnson’s drug manufacturing activities, are now pushing for expanded FDA power to force drug recalls to help the agency quickly deal with future drug contamination problems.


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