QuickNote: Does Tylenol really make asthma symptoms worse?

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New research on Tylenol and asthma may surprise you

You may have heard that acetaminophen (Tylenol) can exacerbate asthma in children, and that alternative medications should be given to children with asthma when they experience pain or fever. A new study refutes this widely-held belief, and finds no correlation between Tylenol and increased asthma symptoms in children.

The study, published last week in The New England Journal of Medicine, followed 300 children 1 – 5 years old with mild persistent asthma from 18 health care institutions. The patients were randomly divided into two groups: one was told to use acetaminophen as indicated for pain or fever, and the other was told to use ibuprofen. The study was conducted over a 48-week period.

During the nearly seven week follow-up period, researchers found no statistically significant difference in asthma rates or severity between the two groups.

Read the full text in The New England Journal of Medicine.

5 things you should know about teen athletes and dietary supplements

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Use of drugs and dietary supplements to improve athletic performance is not just a problem for Olympians — these habits often start in adolescence. Teens are drawn in by ads that promise “natural” ways to enhance athleticism and give them an edge on the field.

Many of these supplements seem innocent enough, and their health claims are strong. Drug companies can’t advertise something that isn’t true, right?

Actually, the guidelines for marketing dietary supplements are quite lenient. Teens should be cautious when considering their use, and pediatricians should feel comfortable having open conversations with teen athletes and their parents about the risks associated with performance enhancing drugs.

Read Thriving‘s lowdown on teens and dietary supplements.

Health care news roundup

Notes-worthy articles from around the web

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Amish rarely get asthma. Why?

U.S. News & World Report: Asthma researchers were puzzled to find that the condition is extremely rare in Amish communities, where children are exposed to more dust and allergens than children in typical American communities. A new study dives into this phenomenon and the results suggest some unconventional ways to prevent asthma.

N.I.H. may fund human-animal stem cell research

New York Times: Implanting human stem cells into animal embryos is an ethically complicated scenario that sounds right out of science fiction. But the National Institutes of Health plans to lift its ban on these experiments in the not-too-distant future. Do the benefits outweigh the costs?

Two-thirds of Americans OK if doctors ask about guns

Reuters: The framing of gun violence as a public health issue is becoming less and less controversial. According to a recent survey, most Americans think it’s OK for doctors to talk with patients about guns: 30 percent said it should be saved for specific situations, while 23 percent said the conversation is appropriate any time.

Related reading: A Pediatrician’s View on Gun Violence and Children, a New York Times op-ed featuring Dr. Eric Fleegler, a pediatric emergency physician and health services researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Learn more about Asthma, Allergy and Immunology research at Boston Children’s.

New study finds nearly half of pediatric clinical trials are abandoned or unpublished

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Where are all the pediatric clinical trials?

Two researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital found a disturbing trend when they searched for data on registered trails involving children.

Natalie Pica, MD and and Florence Bourgeois, MD, MPH took a retrospective, cross-sectional study of pediatric randomized clinical trials (RCTs) registered on ClinicalTrials.gov from 2008 to 2010 and found that 19 percent of were discontinued early. Of those that were actually completed, two thirds had still not published results after an average of 58 months.

Many studies do not publish data because technically, they are only required to report on Clinicaltrials.gov. However, without undergoing appropriate analysis, that data isn’t useful to others.

Our sister blog Vector spoke with Pica and Bourgeois to further investigate this disturbing trend and report on the various roadblocks facing pediatric RTCs.

Read Vector‘s coverage of unpublished pediatric trials.