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PUBLIC RELEASE DATE:
10-Nov-2010

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Contact: Alex Fernandes
a.fernandes@qmul.ac.uk
44-207-882-7910
Queen Mary, University of London
@QMUL

Research strengthens evidence of link between paracetamol use in pregnancy and childhood asthma

Evidence suggesting that the risk of childhood asthma associated with prenatal paracetamol exposure may depend on antioxidant genes in the mother has been found by a team of UK scientists. The results of their study - which strengthens the argument for a causal link between paracetamol exposure in early life and later childhood asthma - are published online (10 November) in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Led by Seif Shaheen, Professor of Respiratory Epidemiology at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, the team examined data from the British Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) which has followed 14,000 children since birth - beginning with their mothers' pregnancies and continuing into the children's 8th year. Researchers looked for evidence of interaction between paracetamol use during pregnancy or infancy and antioxidant genes in the mother or child. Variants in such genes may influence the toxicity of paracetamol.

Participating mothers reported on their use of paracetamol during pregnancy, as well as their child's exposure to the drug during infancy. Histories of wheezing and any asthma and allergy symptoms and diagnoses in the children were recorded, along with details of environmental exposures and family lifestyles. Between ages 7 and 8 the children had allergy skin and blood tests and lung function tests. Both mothers and children had genetic testing performed.

Professor Shaheen and researchers found evidence suggesting that the risk of childhood asthma associated with prenatal paracetamol exposure depended on which variants of various antioxidant genes were present in the mother. In contrast, interactions between infant paracetamol use and similar gene variants in the child were not seen. Shaheen added; "Our latest findings add further weight to the evidence implicating prenatal paracetamol exposure in the development of childhood asthma. However, ultimately a cause and effect relationship can only be confirmed through randomised clinical trials."

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'Prenatal acetaminophen exposure, maternal antioxidant gene polymorphisms and childhood asthma' Shaheen et al is published online in Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (www.jacionline.org)

For information contact:
Alex Fernandes
Communications Office
Queen Mary, University of London
Tel: 020 7882 7910
Mobile: 07528711332
a.fernandes@qmul.ac.uk

Notes to editors:

Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry

Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry offers international levels of excellence in research and teaching while serving a population of unrivalled diversity amongst which cases of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, TB, oral disease and cancers are prevalent, within east London and the wider Thames Gateway. Through partnership with our linked trusts, notably Barts and The London NHS Trust, and our associated University Hospital trusts - Homerton, Newham, Whipps Cross and Queen's - the School's research and teaching is informed by an exceptionally wide ranging and stimulating clinical environment.

At the heart of the School's mission lies world class research, the result of a focused programme of recruitment of leading research groups from the UK and abroad and a £100 million investment in state-of-the-art facilities. Research is focused on translational research, cancer, cardiology, clinical pharmacology, inflammation, infectious diseases, stem cells, dermatology, gastroenterology, haematology, diabetes, neuroscience, surgery and dentistry.

The School is nationally and internationally recognised for research in these areas, reflected in the £40 million it attracts annually in research income. Its fundamental mission, with its partner NHS Trusts, and other partner organisations such as CRUK, is to ensure that that the best possible clinical service is underpinned by the very latest developments in scientific and clinical teaching, training and research.



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