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Hilary's Desk

Painkiller doses boost child asthma risk

Hilary Butler - Friday, September 19, 2008

Painkiller doses boost child asthma risk, study finds Open letter to the Herald:

Dear Sir,

Professor Robin Taylor said in the Herald today, that the benefits of giving children paracetamol when they are sick, may strongly outweigh any potential risks.

That statement is unethical, and a nonsense.

The medical literature shows consistently, that the use of paracetamol during sickness, not only worsens the actual disease, but increases the death rate. Some doctors suggest that the fact that people use paracetamol during illness is an indicator of illness severity, therefore the worsening of disease, and increase in deaths is an inaccurate observation. That is not true.

The medical literature over the last 20 years has proven that the use of paracetamol in fevers and during illness is irresponsible, and potentially dangerous. The WHO says there is no evidence to show that the use of paracetamol in infections is beneficial. The Australian Prescriber, summarizes why paracetamol used during infections is detrimental. I attach the following documents:

1) Two WHO articles.

Paracetamol WHO Paracetamol WHO (557 KB)

2) Australian Prescriber

Paracetamol Australian Prescriber Paracetamol Australian Prescriber (77 KB)

3) A letter IAS sent to Pfizer

Paracetamol Pfizer Paracetamol Pfizer (428 KB)

in 2004 detailing literature showing paracetamol used during illness is potentially dangerous. Pfizer threatened to sue IAS as a result of statements made pointing out the association of the use of paracetamol with serious meningitis (I attach that study as well).

Paracetamol Meningitis Paracetamol Meningitis (952 KB)

It is interesting that following the IAS letter to Pfizer, and two more follow ups, Pfizer chose to silently drop it’s legal threats, rather than play out their “power games” in the public arena.

4) Three medical articles published since 2000 showing the association of paracetamol use with development of allergies and asthma.

Paracetamol Asthma Paracetamol Asthma (83 KB)

Paracetamol Newson 2000 Paracetamol Newson 2000 (129 KB)

Paracetamol Lesko 2002 Paracetamol Lesko 2002 (237 KB)

I look forward to the day when the medical profession has the courage to state in public that the current New Zealand rate of use of paracetamol is unacceptable and irresponsible, and that there is no place to continue the automatic use of paracetamol in young babies, during fever, illness or other non-life-threatening conditions.

No parents who realized that the single most preventable cause of asthma in this country was the current excessive use of paracetamol, would continue being an accomplice to the large historical increase in the numbers of New Zealand children having to medicate lifelong asthma. Swapping a temperature for asthma makes no sense.

Please ask your journalists to do some in-depth medical research on this issue.

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