UK/Sweden: painkillers in pregnancy do not cause childhood asthma

09 May 2019

The risk of children developing asthma does not increase when their mothers take painkillers during pregnancy, a major study has concluded.


Researchers in London and colleagues in Sweden found that while women taking paracetamol during pregnancy are more likely to have children who develop asthma, the painkillers are not the cause. 

The study of almost 500,000 Swedish mothers – published in the European Respiratory Journal – found that children born to mothers who had been prescribed paracetamol during pregnancy had a similar risk of asthma to children born to women prescribed opioids such as codeine and tramadol, or migraine medication.

Lead researcher Seif Shaheen said: ‘It seems more likely that another factor that we haven’t measured is linked to use of these drugs and to asthma risk. For example, women who are taking prescribed painkillers are likely to be suffering from chronic pain.’

Image credit | iStock