A new study has linked the use of a commonly used painkiller to asthma.
The New Zealand led study suggests paracetamol could cause the illness, prompting some doctors to urge caution over the use of the drug for sick children.
The study found adolescents who used paracetamol up to once a month increased the risk of asthma by 50%, compared to those who didn't use it.
New Zealand has one of the highest rates of asthma in the world with 15% of adults and 20% of children aged 6-14 having the illness - around 600,000 people in total.
Richard Beasley from the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand welcomed the study results.
"This is very important because asthma has become more common in New Zealand and other countries over the last few decades and this may be one of the reasons for this happening," he said.
Beasley said the results backed up a study two years ago which found children doubled the risk of developing asthma by the age of six if they were given paracetamol in the first year of life.
"There are concerns that we are over-medicating and that we should limit the use for what is intended for, which is significant pain or fever."
The Asthma Foundation is concerned but says there needs to be more research.
"It may simply be that paracetamol as a use is just an indicator they are having more illnesses rather than being a cause of the problem," said Bob Hancox of the Asthma Foundation.
Doctors ONE News spoke to say paracetamol is still the preferred painkiller for children, because the alternatives are no better. Both Nurofen and Aspirin are known to trigger asthma attacks they say.
Meanwhile, drug regulator Medsafe said it would continue to monitor the safety of paracetamol, but has no reason to restrict its use.
Over 300,000 children aged 13 and 14 from 50 countries were tested in the study.
Friday August 13, 2010
Source: ONE News
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