Exposure to Paracetamol and Antibiotics in Early Life and Elevated Risk of Asthma in Childhood

  • M. MucEmail author
  • C. Padez
  • A. Mota Pinto
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 788)


Prospective studies on increased risk of childhood asthma due to exposure to paracetamol and antibiotics in early life have yielded contradictory results. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to investigate the association between administration of paracetamol and antibiotics in the first 12 months of life and delayed asthma symptoms later in childhood. This is a cross-sectional study that included 1,063 children from the primary schools in Coimbra, Portugal. ISAAC-based environmental and core asthma and rhinitis questionnaires were used to obtain information about children’s respiratory health and administration of paracetamol and antibiotics. We found that early paracetamol use significantly increased the risk of asthma ever (at least one episode in life) (OR = 2.9; 95 %CI:1.8–4.5), current asthma (OR = 2.4; 95 %CI:1.5–3.6), wheezing ever (OR = 2.5; 95 %CI:1.8–3.4), rhinitis ever (OR = 2.4; 95 %CI:1.7–3.3), and current rhinitis (OR = 2.8; 95 %CI:2.0–3.9). Antibiotic exposure showed a similar effect with the risk for current asthma (OR = 1.6; 95 %CI:1.0–2.5), asthma ever (OR = 2.0; 95 %CI:1.3–3.1), wheeze ever (OR = 2.3; 95 %CI:1.7–3.2), and rhinitis symptoms (OR = 1.8; 95 %CI:1.3–2.6, OR = 1.8; 95 %CI:1.3–2.6, OR = 1.9; 95 %CI:1.2–3.0 for rhinitis ever, current rhinitis, and tearing, respectively). We further found that increased frequency of paracetamol use during the last 12 months preceding the study facilitated the appearance of allergic symptoms, suggesting a dose-dependent associations. In conclusion, the study shows a significant association between exposure to paracetamol and antibiotics in the first 12 months of life and both prevalence and severity of asthma and rhinitis symptoms in children 5–9 years old.


Antibiotics Asthma Children Paracetamol Rhinitis Wheeze 



Supported by a grant of the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia number SFRH/BD/66877/2009.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest in relation to this article.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Life SciencesUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  2. 2.CIAS – Research Center for Anthropology and HealthUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal
  3. 3.General Pathology Laboratory, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of CoimbraCoimbraPortugal

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