Tylenol and Kids? What are the risks?

Many of us have used Tylenol growing up as kids for headaches, fevers, aches, and pains.  Now as we have gotten older and have kids of our own, our pediatricians are still telling us to use Tylenol on our kids for when they have fevers, but is it safe?

Today, more and more research has been coming out linking the increase risk in asthma in children who are given Tylenol.  A study recently published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found a 29% increase in the likelihood of an infant who used paracetamol having asthma at age 3 and at age 7 years.  Paracetamol is another name for Acetaminophen, which is the active ingredient in Tylenol, Panadol, Anacin, and many other brands. According to the CDC, every year asthma is responsible for14.2 million physician office visits, 1.8 million emergency-department visits, 439,000 hospital stays, and more than 3,500 deaths.  And yet, a drug that increase the risk of asthma in children by 2, 3 and 5 times depending on the frequency of use continues to be sold and prescribed to parents unaware of the potential risks.

In the ISAAC (International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood) study, researchers looked at more than 205,000 children, ages 6 to 7, in 31 countries and found that acetaminophen use for fever in the first year of life was linked to increased risk of asthma symptoms in children 6 to 7 years old. Current use of acetaminophen was also linked to increased risk of asthma symptoms.

Tylenol use doing pregnancy also has its risks. Its use has been linked to an increase in the risk of their child developing ADHD.  According to the research article in JAMA Pediatrics in February, “Children whose mothers took acetaminophen while pregnant had up to a 40 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with ADHD, according to the research, which involved more than 64,000 Danish mothers and their children. The kids were born between 1996 and 2002.” The study further stated, “”The strongest effects were seen when a woman said she had taken it for six weeks or more, and even more strongly at 20 weeks or more,” Ritz added. “We always thought acetaminophen is kind of harmless and not so bad to take during pregnancy, and probably it is, if you take it once or twice. But if you take it repeatedly, you see these risks creeping up.”

The common rebuttal theme I have found doing my research was that there was no clear path from taking Tylenol to these conditions.  They kept on stating that more trials and research were necessary in order to find that link and that until they do find that link we should continue taking the Tylenol as is.  To me that sounds like the company grasping as straws to keep from losing the $1 plus billion dollars they make annually on the product.

So what do you do?  For one, I would only use Tylenol or acetaminophen as a last resort.  If your child has a low grade fever, let their body do their job.  Fevers are a natural way your body fights off bacteria and viruses.  You can read my previous article about fevers here.  Additionally, do your own research.  Don’t just listen to what your doctors are saying to you.  Just because they say something doesn’t always mean they are right or that it is right for your child.  There are a lot of great homeopathic remedies for fever reducers. Here are some articles below that I found on the topic:

  1. WEBMD asthma risk
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19696122
  3. http://eurpub.oxfordjournals.org/content/23/4/706
  4. https://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2013/sep/16/paracetamol-rising-childhood-asthma-rates
  5. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/24/tylenol-overdose_n_3976991.html
  6. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/108/4/1020
  7. http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/childhood-adhd/news/20140224/use-of-acetaminophen-in-pregnancy-tied-to-higher-adhd-risk-in-child
  8. http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm315497.htm
  9. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/acetaminophen/art-20046721
  10. http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/08/13/acetaminophen.may.double.asthma.risk/index.html

 

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