Inhibiting fever with acetaminophen increases risk of asthma in children

My child has a fever, what can I do?  I do not want to give aspirin because of the rare complication of Reye’s syndrome.  I give them acetaminophen to reduce the fever and inflammation.  However, research by Dr. McBride, published in Pediatrics, has documented that there is a strong link between acetaminophen (also known as paracetamol) and asthma  This high correlation between acetaminophen use and asthma is across all groups, ages  and location. This correlation even holds up for mothers who took acetaminophen during pregnancy.  Their children have increased risk for asthma by age six.

A better solution for a feverish child is watchful waiting and hold back on the medication until they are truly needed–which is very rare. Remember in almost all cases  fever is not the illness; it is the body’s response to fight the illness and regain health. For more information about the relationship between acetaminophen and asthma see the New York Time‘s article, “Studies Suggest an Acetaminophen-Asthma Link,”  the Pediatrics‘ article, “The Association of Acetaminophen and Asthma Prevalence and Severity,” or  chapter 6, Therapeutic Fever, in the book, Fighting Cancer-A Nontoxic Approach to Treatment.

Fever can save your life

Most people are terrified of fever and quickly rush to take  a Tylenol.  Fever is not the cause of illness; it is the body’s response to  fight an infection. Fever causes the immune system to be activated so that it can fight the infection. Fever allows the body to return to health.  If patients in the hospital intensive care units  experience fever,   aggressively fever suppression is the norm. Recent research by Dr. Schulman and colleagues at University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine have shown that if instead the patients are carefully monitored and the fever is not suppressed the death rate in the ICU is reduce seven fold. Robert Gorter and I discuss the important role of fever and possible harm of fever suppression in our new book, Fighting Cancer.