Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Asthma Health Center

Font Size

Acetaminophen in Pregnancy: Link to Baby's Asthma?

Study Suggests an Increase in Asthma Risk When Pregnant Women Take Some Painkillers
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

March 30, 2011 -- Pregnant women who take the popular painkiller acetaminophen (Acephen, Actamin, Feverall, Tylenol, and Uniserts) may be boosting their baby's risk of asthma, according to a new report.

But the findings should not be cause for alarm, says study researcher Richard Beasley, MD, professor of medicine at the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand. "It is still considered a safe drug to take and our findings don't alter that recommendation.”

What is not known, he tells WebMD, is whether the link between the use of painkillers during pregnancy and asthma in the child is truly cause and effect.

"The message would be that this study raises some concern, and that it really reinforces the general principle to avoid unnecessary medication during pregnancy," he says. "This [report] does not change the recommendation."

Acetaminophen, called paracetamol in New Zealand, would ''remain as the preferred analgesic'' to bring down fever in a pregnant woman, he says. "But we would caution against the regular use, particularly regular unnecessary use, during pregnancy.”

The report is published in the journal Clinical & Experimental Allergy.

Painkillers During Pregnancy

Previous research, including some by the New Zealand researchers, has suggested that use of the painkiller during pregnancy may increase asthma risk in children.

In the new report, Beasley and his colleagues re-evaluated the results of six previously published studies.

Overall, Beasley found that the use of the painkiller by pregnant women during any stage of pregnancy was linked with a 21% increased risk of asthma in their young children.

The increasing use of acetaminophen, some experts say, may have contributed to the rising rates of asthma worldwide. In the U.S., 24.6 million people, about 8.2% of the population, have asthma, according to the CDC.

In the six studies, the children ranged in age from 2 1/2 to 7. Parents were asked if their child had wheezing in the last 12 months.

"'We would say wheezing is a marker for asthma," Beasley tells WebMD.

No information was available on the dose of painkiller taken or how often.

The results from the separate studies vary. One Spanish study, for instance, found a link between the use of acetaminophen by the mother at least once a month during pregnancy and the chance her child had wheezing by preschool age. But the link was only found among mothers without asthma, not those who had asthma.

When Is Your Asthma Worse?

When Is Your Asthma Worse?

Take the WebMD Asthma assessment to get Personalized Action Plan

Start Now

Today on WebMD

Lung and bronchial tube graphic
5 common triggers.
group jogging in park
Should you avoid fitness activities?
asthma inhaler
Learn about your options.
man feeling faint
What’s the difference?
Madison Wisconsin Capitol
woman wearing cpap mask
red wine pouring into glass
Woman holding inhaler
Man outdoors coughing
Lung and bronchial tube graphic
10 Worst Asthma Cities