Astma Today

/ October 19th, 2010/ Posted in Asthma / No Comments »

Acetaminophen no asthma trigger after all?

By Frederik Joelving

NEW YORK | Tue Oct 19, 2010 12:28am IST

(Reuters Health) – Doctors have been scratching their heads for years over the higher asthma risk in kids who use acetaminophen, a common painkiller known as Tylenol in the US.

Just last August, researchers studying toddlers in Ethiopia said it was “increasingly likely” that the drug had triggered much of the wheezing that troubled eight percent of those children. And another study hinted it might be fueling a large part of the worldwide increase in asthma (see Reuters Health story of Aug 13).

In a letter to the editor of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, however, researchers from Germany say there is no cause for alarm.

Using long-term data for more than 3,000 children, they report that the link between asthma and acetaminophen only held when the medication was used to treat airway infections — not stomach flu or urinary tract infections.

“A lot of people associate (acetaminophen) with asthma,” said Dr. Eva Schnabel, of the German Research Center for Environmental Health in Neuherberg, who worked on the new analysis.

“Perhaps they should think it over and read the studies again,” she suggested.

Schnabel, who has no ties to drugmakers, said most earlier studies hadn’t followed children from the get-go and often relied on parents’ recall.

But parents whose kids have frequent airway infections might be more likely to remember using a painkiller to lower the fever. And it’s possible that the infections that led to acetaminophen use, and not the drug per se, could have caused asthma later on or revealed an underlying vulnerability to the disease.

“There have been several studies showing that viral infections are a risk factor for asthma,” Schnabel told Reuters Health.

The letter by Schnabel and her colleagues, which was reviewed by independent experts, is based on published data from kids followed closely up to age six.

Parents were asked to record all cases of fever in their child’s first year of life as well as airway, stomach and urinary tract infections. They also jotted down the medications they used in these cases.

Thirteen percent of the children developed asthma. Although use of acetaminophen — the most common painkiller by far — was more common in those who went on to have asthma, that difference was only found for airway infections.

“This analysis indicates that increased respiratory tract infection morbidity and not (acetaminophen) use during infancy is associated with the later development of asthma,” the researchers write.

“There is no argument anymore that (acetaminophen) shouldn’t be prescribed during infancy,” concludes Schnabel.

The researchers who suggested acetaminophen might trigger asthma could not be reached for comments.

SOURCE: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, online October 4, 2010.

Giving infants antibiotics triggers asthma?

Canadian medical researchers are conducting a 2.5-million-dollar study to answer whether giving antibiotics to infants in their first year of life triggers asthma and allergies that develop later on in childhood.

More than 50 percent of Canadian infants receive a prescription for antibiotics before they turn one year old, reports Discovery News .

The study aim is two-fold: first, to discern how intestinal bacteria inside newborns changes after taking antibiotics, and second, to study if those changes trigger medical conditions later.

The researchers are intrigued by microbiota. Considered to be ‘good’ intestinal bacteria, microbiota protect against harmful bacteria and help the body absorb nutrients.

Except no one is born with microbiota. It develops during the first year of life. Hence the age of the research subjects.

The study’s proof will be in the dirty diapers. Researchers will analyze the composition of microbiota from fecal samples at three months and again, at one year of age. DNA culled from the baby poop will identify bacteria in the microbiota.

School Bus Contractor Awarded by Asthma Group

Riteway Bus Service of Milwaukee, Wisc., was awarded the Wisconsin Asthma Coalition (WAC) 2010 WAC Taking Action for Asthma Award at a recent meeting.

The award was presented at the WAC meeting on Oct. 15 and highlighted the green efforts made by the school bus contractor. These environmentally friendly practices include idle reduction, fuel conservation programs, emission control technologies, newer, lower emission emitting buses and a plan to introduce hybrid school buses into the fleet sometime next year.

Riteway President Ronald Bast was on hand to accept the award, which was presented by WAC Chair Rhonda Yngsdal-Krenz. This is not a first for Riteway, as the company has received other accolades for its green efforts, including the 2010 Wisconsin Partners for Clean Air Award and the 2010 United Motorcoach Association Green Highway Award.

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