Tylenol Doesn’t Worsen Asthma in Young Children

Giving young children Tylenol (acetaminophen) for pain or fever does not exacerbate asthma in children with the condition.

The study, led by researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital, was conducted following a series of retrospective studies that appeared to indicate children saw their asthma worsen after taking Tylenol. However, the results of the new study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that there is no difference in asthma exacerbation between Tylenol, and another NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), ibuprofen.

About 300 children between 1 and 5 years old with mild persistent asthma were enrolled. They were then randomized to use either acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain and fever over 48 weeks. All the children received the same daily, standard asthma control therapy.
Over the course of the 48-week study, both the acetaminophen and ibuprofen groups used a similar amount of those medicines – a median of 5.5 doses.

Overall, there were no statistically significant differences in terms of asthma exacerbations within the 2 groups. The number of exacerbations per child averaged 0.81 in the acetaminophen group compared to 0.87 in the ibuprofen group.

“We found no matter how you slice it, there was absolutely no difference between Tylenol and Motrin,” senior investigator Wanda Phipatanakul, MD, of Boston Children’s Hospital, said in a statement. “Our findings should alleviate the concerns for safety that were based on observational data.”

Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block is a freelance writer and former MedShadow content editor. He has been an editor and writer for multiple pharmaceutical, health and medical publications, including BioCentury, The Pink Sheet, Modern Healthcare, Health Plan Week and Psychiatry Advisor. He holds a BA from Tufts University and is earning an MPH with a focus on health policy from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.

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