The association between paracetamol use and asthma: causation or coincidence?

Clin Exp Allergy. 2015 Jan;45(1):108-13. doi: 10.1111/cea.12410.


A better understanding of the causation of asthma and allergic disorders could potentially lead to intervention strategies that reduce their prevalence and severity. One potential causative factor is the use of paracetamol. Most of the evidence for the link with asthma is from non-experimental studies of paracetamol exposure in utero, infancy, childhood and adult life; however, it has been difficult to rule out confounding and bias in the associations observed. The two randomized clinical trials of the effect of paracetamol in patients with asthma have been difficult to interpret, due to methodological issues. There have been no randomized controlled trials of paracetamol use and the development of asthma. Both asthma and paracetamol use are common, and so even if there is a relatively small effect of paracetamol exposure on the development of asthma or its severity, then such an effect would be of major public health significance. It is proposed that randomized controlled trials of the effect of paracetamol on the development of asthma and its severity are a high research priority.

Keywords: allergic disorders; asthma; causation; paracetamol.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / adverse effects*
  • Acetaminophen / therapeutic use
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / adverse effects*
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / therapeutic use
  • Asthma / chemically induced*
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / chemically induced
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / epidemiology
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / immunology
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
  • Acetaminophen