Use of acetaminophen in pregnancy tied to ADHD

Many medical websites covered a study suggesting an association between expectant mothers’ use of acetaminophen during pregnancy and an increased risk for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AHDH) in their children. All of the sources note that acetaminophen has long been thought to be safe for use during pregnancy.

On NBC Nightly News, medical editor Nancy Snyderman, MD reported on a study that found use during pregnancy of acetaminophen has been tied to an “increased risk of having a child diagnosed with” attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD).

USA Today reports that the research, which was published in JAMA Pediatrics, is “likely to prompt concerns among women who have been told that the medication – found in Tylenol and many other pain and fever remedies – is safe during pregnancy.”

The Los Angeles Times reports that in the study of some 64,000 mothers in Denmark and their youngsters, “researchers found that kids whose mothers took the painkiller at any point during pregnancy were 29% more likely to be diagnosed with AD/HD than were kids whose mothers took none.”

Notably, “the risk increased the most – by 63% – when acetaminophen was taken during the second and third trimesters, and by 28% when used in the third trimester alone.” When taken just during the first trimester, however, “the added risk was 9%.”

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, an accompanying editorial cautioned that “the study’s findings should not prompt anyone to stop taking acetaminophen for its designed use.”

The editorial pointed out that the findings “underline the importance of not taking a drug’s safety during pregnancy for granted, and they provide a platform from which to conduct further related analyses exploring a potential relationship between acetaminophen use and altered neurodevelopment.”

The Huffington Post reports, “The findings join a small but growing body of research – some of it led by the same researchers on the new study – linking acetaminophen use during pregnancy with health issues such as increased asthma risk in children and undescended testes in boys.”

According to Reuters, one study “published in November linked mothers’ frequent Tylenol use (at least 28 total days) during pregnancy with children’s decreased motor and communication skills as well as behavioral issues.”


Enter your email to subscribe to Dr. Walt's blogs.

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Dr. Walt Larimore will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.