Several studies in recent years have suggested acetaminophen exposure during pregnancy is linked to a higher risk of ADHD and autism.


The findings from this research are particularly concerning since acetaminophen, commonly known as Tylenol, is one of the most common medications taken by pregnant women for relieving aches and pains associated with pregnancy. Acetaminophen is also widely used for reducing fever in infants and children.


In a 2016 study funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) data was analyzed from nearly 50,000 children in Denmark who had been exposed to acetaminophen during pregnancy. They found that those who were exposed during their first trimester had a 37% higher risk of developing autism spectrum disorder compared to children who were not exposed at all. Additionally, the study found that those exposed prenatally had a 29% increased risk of being diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


A 2019 NIH funded study analyzed data from the Boston Birth Cohort, a long -term study of factors influencing pregnancy and child development.  Umbilical cord blood from 996 babies was collected and the amount of acetaminophen was measured.  The samples were then classified into three categories based on the amount of acetaminophen present.  Compared to the lowest third, the middle third was associated with approximately 2.26 times the risk for ADHD and the highest third with 2.867 times the risk.  Likewise, ASD risk was higher for those in the middle third (2.14 times) and highest third (3.62 times).


A 2021 study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology reviewed 73,881 mother-child pairs for prenatal and postnatal exposure. The study concluded that boys and girls showed higher odds of Autism and ADHD after prenatal exposure though boys were slightly more at risk.


These studies highlight the need for more rigorous studies on the effects of prenatal exposure to this drug on early brain development and should serve as an impetus for doctors and pharmacists to clearly explain potential side effects associated with acetaminophen use during pregnancy. By providing more detailed information about this potential risk, pregnant women can make more informed decisions when it comes to taking medication while pregnant.


How Much Acetaminophen is Safe For Pregnant Women?


At this time, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that pregnant women should not exceed 4 grams per day when taking acetaminophen due to potential risks. It also states that if there is a need to take more than 1 gram per dose or more than 2 doses within 6 hours, then a physician should be consulted. These studies, however suggest that these safety guidelines may not be sufficient; thus, further studies are needed to determine the full extent of the risks associated with prenatal exposure to acetaminophen.


In addition, pregnant women should be aware that there may be other alternatives available for relieving pain instead of taking acetaminophen such as hot or cold packs, massage, stretching exercises, and even yoga or acupuncture. However, they should always consult their health care provider before trying any alternative treatment methods as some may not be suitable during pregnancy.


Altered Brain Development and Behavioral Problems


In addition to the above referenced studies, other researchers have conducted further studies to investigate the link between prenatal exposure to acetaminophen and autism or ADHD. One study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that women who took acetaminophen for more than 20 weeks during pregnancy had a greater risk of having a child with ADHD compared to those who did not take it at all. The authors concluded that there is an association between prenatal acetaminophen use and an increased risk of hyperactivity and attention problems in children.


Another recent study looked at the effects of prenatal acetaminophen exposure on sleep patterns in infancy. The research showed that infants whose mothers had taken acetaminophen during their pregnancy were more likely to experience disrupted sleeping patterns compared to those whose mothers did not take it. This suggests that there may be an underlying relationship between this drug and neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD and autism.


In addition, another study published in 2017 examined the link between prenatal acetaminophen exposure and altered brain development in children. The researchers found that infants whose mothers had taken the medication while pregnant showed signs of decreased gray matter volume in certain brain regions related to language processing, emotion regulation, and social cognition—all of which can be indicative of autism or ADHD-like symptoms.


Furthermore, a 2019 study by scientists from Denmark looked at maternal use of paracetamol during pregnancy and its association with behavioral problems in their offspring up until age 7 years old. It found that higher levels of prenatal exposure was linked to an increased risk of emotional problems, conduct problems, hyperactivity/inattention, peer relationship difficulties, and prosocial behavior difficulties later on in life; suggesting a potential link between early fetal exposure to paracetamol and adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes later down the line.


Overall, these studies suggest that it is crucial for healthcare providers to inform their patients about potential risks associated with taking this medication during pregnancy so they are aware of what they are exposing themselves or their unborn child to before deciding whether or not it’s right for them as individuals.


You Have Legal Options To Pursue Today


In light of these health risks, Showard Law Firm is proud to represent individuals or families who have suffered injury due to prenatal exposure to acetaminophen. We have helped thousands of clients achieve justice for the damages inflicted upon them by major drug companies. We will fight for you and your family with relentless dedication so that you can recover just compensation for any harm done as a result of taking this medication while pregnant.


At Showard Law Firm, we understand that going through this process can be overwhelming and stressful which is why we strive to ensure that you receive personalized attention throughout every step. We will keep you informed throughout your case and make sure that our legal strategies align with your goals so that together we can achieve justice for any harms suffered as a result of taking acetaminophen during pregnancy.


If you or someone you know has been affected by prenatal exposure to acetaminophen, Showard Law Firm is here to help. We believe everyone should be able to take legal action against those responsible for their injury without having financial concerns get in the way which is why we offer free consultations and operate on a contingency fee basis—meaning our fees are based solely on a percentage of what we recover for you. Let us fight for you today and get the justice you deserve!


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