The research linking acetaminophen to asthma and developmental disorders such as autism suggests that the drug’s automatic inclusion in the childhood medicine cabinet ought to be reconsidered.
Acetaminophen has been around for over a century and is the most widely used drug compound in the world. In the U.S., acetaminophen (also called paracetamol or APAP) is present as an active ingredient in over 600 prescription and over-the-counter medications marketed to relieve pain or reduce fever, including Tylenol. Every week, nearly one in four Americans takes an acetaminophen-containing medication, and pediatricians routinely recommend acetaminophen as the treatment of choice for fever in children.
Despite its ubiquity, acetaminophen also has many critics. These argue that the drug’s path to prominence has been littered with errors, false assumptions and undue complacency about risks. Documented problems include life-threatening liver damage in individuals who consume acetaminophen in “excess amounts”—something that is all too easy to do, given the drug’s different aliases and the sheer number of products in which it is present—as well as cardiovascular disease…
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