El dilema del paracetamol

WELLINGTON – El paracetamol (conocido como acetaminofeno en Estados Unidos) es una de las drogas más usadas en el mundo. Es la medicación preferida para aliviar la fiebre y el dolor por sus características de seguridad. Sin embargo, hace 10 años, se propuso la hipótesis de que el uso del paracetamol puede aumentar el riesgo de desarrollar asma. Se sugirió que la utilización de paracetamol en lugar de aspirina para tratar a niños en Estados Unidos durante la década de 1980 puede haber contribuido a la creciente prevalencia del asma infantil que se observó durante este período.

El uso de paracetamol en lugar de aspirina, propusieron los investigadores, puede haber derivado en una mayor respuesta inmune alérgica, aumentando así la susceptibilidad al asma y a otros trastornos alérgicos. Desde entonces, varios estudios epidemiológicos reportaron una asociación entre el asma y la exposición al paracetamol en el vientre materno, en la niñez y en la adultez. Estos estudios llevaron a la sugerencia de que el uso de paracetamol puede representar un factor de riesgo importante en el desarrollo de asma.

La última evidencia que respalda esta hipótesis surge de un importante estudio epidemiológico internacional del asma infantil que se publicó recientemente en la revista médica The Lancet . En este análisis, del Estudio Internacional de Asma y Alergias en la Niñez (ISAAC, por su sigla en inglés), participaron más de 200.000 niños entre seis y siete años de 73 centros en 31 países. Los padres o tutores de los niños completaron cuestionarios por escrito sobre síntomas actuales de asma, rinitis (fiebre del heno) y eczema, y sobre varios factores de riesgo, entre ellos el uso de paracetamol para la fiebre en el primer año de vida del niño y la frecuencia en el uso de paracetamol en los últimos 12 meses.

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