Friday, September 19, 2008

Tylenol Puts Children At Risk For Asthma

A study was performed in Hong Kong that showed children were at an increased risk for developing asthma and eczema by the age of 6 or 7 if they had been given paracetamol (or acetominophen, brand name Tylenol) during infancy. The study included 205,000 children in 31 countries, and determined that paracetamol use in the first year of life was associated with a 46 percent higher risk of asthma by the time the children were 6 or 7 compared to those never exposed to the drug. If the drug was given to the child at least once a year but less than once a month within the past 12 months, it increased the likelihood of developing asthma by 61 percent. If a child was given the drug once a month or more, the risk for asthma is tripled, the risk for eczema is doubled, and the child is also at high risk for developing rhinoconjunctivitis.

The pharmaceutical alternative for pain and fever, aspirin, is linked to the risk of Reye's disease, and is not recommended for babies. So despite the recent findings, the researchers claim that paracetamol is still the drug of choice for such pediatric problems, since asthma and eczema beats getting brain damage.

It's too bad there was no mention in the study by the researchers, or in the article in Reuter's, about alternatives to both of these drugs, especially because people love their herbal decoctions in Hong Kong. Chinese medicine treats a whole slew of pediatric diseases, and there are specific treatment plans especially for infantile febrile disorders. One of the most effective ways to treat fever in a baby is to massage it out with special tui na techniques along the channels (which are different in a baby than in an adult), using fast, light movements coupled with a little bit of water. There are also herbs that can be used to reduce a fever in a matter of minutes with little to no side effects in comparison to synthetic pharmaceutical drugs. Acupuncture can even be administered to vent the heat, though for babies it's more of a quick in-and-out pricking with the needles than a relaxing 30 minutes on the table.

Little bodies have a lot of things going on when they first enter the world, and a lot of biochemical changes are happening very quickly. It's kind of crazy to think about how just one exposure can put a child at such a dramatic level of risk.

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