Tylenol During Pregnancy Linked to ADHD
An important new study calls into question the safety of one of the most common over-the-counter drugs taken during pregnancy for over 50 years: acetaminophen, most commonly found in Tylenol.
The Back Story: With most other pain killers off limits during pregnancy, many, many women rely on acetaminophen to ease muscle aches and headaches. More importantly, acetaminophen was thought to provide a safe way to reduce fevers in pregnant women. Since untreated fevers during pregnancy can have serious consequences, such as significantly increased risks of developmental delays or neural tube defects, acetaminophen has played an important role in protecting mothers and their unborn babies.
The New Findings: A new study published in the international medical journal JAMA Pediatrics found a strong association between mothers who took the drug and a diagnosis of ADHD in their children. These children were 37% more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD and 29% more likely to be prescribed medicine for ADHD. And the more that was taken, the higher the risk: children of mothers who used acetaminophen for more than 20 weeks were 50% more at risk for ADHD. Although the cause for the correlation isn’t known, it’s possible that acetaminophen could be disrupting normal brain development by interfering with hormone systems during vital times of prenatal development.
What Should You Do?: As with any medical situation, the first step is to always speak with your doctor. But until more information is available, it would make sense to use acetaminophen only to treat serious situations, like a fever, and rely on other, less potentially risky approaches to pain relief instead.