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Intravenous paracetamol for neonates: long-term diseases not escalated during 5 years of follow-up


Objective To evaluate the long-term adverse reactions of paracetamol in children who required intensive care shortly after birth. Paracetamol is a widely used analgesic in neonates, but the long-term studies are lacking. Previous epidemiological studies have reported associations between early paracetamol intake and diseases in childhood.

Design Five-year follow-up cohort of children who required intensive care shortly after birth.

Setting Single tertiary care hospital; neonatal and paediatric intensive care units.

Interventions Intravenous paracetamol was administered for pain and discomfort to the neonates during their intensive care, while for the control infants, it was not available.

Main outcome measures The primary outcome was the incidence of asthma; secondary outcomes were neonatal diseases and long-term morbidities (atopic dermatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, autism, speech disorders, cerebral palsy). Long-term morbidities were adjusted based on antenatal and neonatal risk factors.

Results We screened all neonates admitted to the intensive care units soon after birth in Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland, during 1 October 2007 to 31 December 2013. Altogether, 1552 infants needed intensive care. Of them, 735 (47%) were treated with intravenous paracetamol. We obtained their long-term data from the Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare, including all physician-made diagnoses from all primary healthcare units and hospitals in Finland. We found no difference in the asthma incidence or in other long-term morbidities between paracetamol-treated and non-exposed infants.

Conclusions Intravenous paracetamol given to neonates did not associate with childhood disorders compared with the non-exposed infants during the 5-year follow-up. The previous hypothesis that early paracetamol use causes childhood morbidities was not confirmed.

  • allergy
  • autism
  • neurodevelopment
  • pain
  • intensive care

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