According to study results out of Norway, paracetamol, or acetaminophen, exposure in pregnancy and in infancy is associated with a child's allergic disease at the age of 10 years. The study, which relied on structured interviews and clinical examinations, represented a 10-year follow-up of more than 1,000 children in a prospective birth cohort.
Thirty-one mothers reported using paracetamol in the first trimester of their pregnancies, and 32 used it in the second or third trimesters. Eighty-three infants received at least 1 dose of the medication by 6 months of age.
At 10 years of age, children of mothers who had used paracetamol in the first trimester were at increased risk for allergic rhinitis, although the agent was not associated with asthma or allergic sensitization.
Here is another in a series of studies linking early exposure to antigens and later increased or decreased atopic disease. Acetaminophen may join the current list of potential offenders, while dirt, peanuts, fish, and others move toward innocence. The factors that are most interesting to me are those that we may be able to control through anticipatory guidance and education. -Michael Burke, MD