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Noriany Rivera, who is 40 weeks pregnant, looks at her belly as she listens to a doctor during a routine check up, as fliers explaining how to prevent Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya viruses are posted on the wall, at a public hospital in San Juan, Puerto Rico, February 3, 2016.Reuters

A new study suggests children are likelier to develop asthma if their mothers use common painkiller paracetamol during pregnancy, reports PTI.

Although the study wasn't designed to prove cause and effect, researchers found that prenatal exposure to the over-the-counter medicine was associated with an increased risk for asthma in children, a U.S.News report stated. "Uncovering potential adverse effects is of public health importance, as paracetamol is the most commonly used painkiller among pregnant women and infants," said Maria Magnus from the University of Bristol in the UK.

The researchers compared associations between several conditions during pregnancy (with and without the use of paracetamol) and asthma developing in 114,500 children, according to the data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study.

The study examined asthma outcomes at ages three and seven and stated that children exposed to paracetamol in the womb developed asthma at the age of three. The findings also indicated prenatal paracetamol exposure showed an independent association with asthma development, which was similar whether pregnant women took the medication for pain, fever or the flu, suggesting the drug itself, and not the underlying condition, was driving the association. 

The findings showed 5.7 percent of the children had current asthma at age three, and 5.1 percent had asthma at age seven.

The research "Prenatal and infant paracetamol exposure and development of asthma: the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study" was published in The International Journal of Epidemiology, on Feb. 9, 2016.

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