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GPs told paracetamol still safe in pregnancy despite asthma link

A large Government-funded study presented at the conference has revealed adults who take paracetamol daily are twice as likely to have asthma as occasional users.

Delegates at the meeting

also heard women who take paracetamol late in pregnancy increase the risk of asthma in their school-aged offspring by up to 60 per cent.

But study leader Dr Seif Shaeen, senior lecturer in clinical epidemiology at King's College London, said the link had not been proved to be causal and GPs should continue to recommend paracetamol as the safest painkiller in

pregnancy.

The first study, a Department of Health- funded postal survey of 8,600 randomly-

selected adults in London ­ 1,436 with asthma ­ found those who took paracetamol daily had a 2.22-fold higher risk of having asthma than those who took the painkiller less than once a week.

The researchers also show-ed eating five or more apples a week reduced the risk of asthma by 36 per cent, possibly because of their anti-oxidant properties.

'People should be cautious about using paracetamol on a daily basis,' said Dr Richard Sporik, clinical research fellow at King's College and lead

author of the study.

Meanwhile, researchers looking at 8,500 pregnancies in the University of Bristol's 'children of the 90s' birth cohort found 40 per cent of women used paracetamol 'sometimes'.

This was associated with a 20 per cent increase in risk

of asthma in their offspring

at the age of six. Daily use of paracetamol was reported by only 1 per cent of women

but increased the risk of

asthma in their children by 60 per cent.

Last year the group reported similar results for wheezing in early childhood.

While oxidants such as paracetamol might play a

role in asthma, there was

not yet enough evidence to

establish a causal link, said

Dr Dermot Ryan, a GP in Loughborough, Leicestershire, and an author of the British Thoracic Society guidelines on asthma.

'Paracetamol is commonly used in infants and there are very few painkillers you can use in pregnancy.

'It would be premature to stop recommending paracetamol in these circumstances,' added Dr Ryan.

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