Acetaminophen During Pregnancy May Be Linked To ADHD In Children

Feb 24 2014, 9:03pm CST | by

Acetaminophen During Pregnancy May Be Linked To ADHD In Children
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

Acetaminophen has been accumulating some evidence against its routine use in recent years, and now there may be more: The drug, if used during pregnancy, may raise the risk of behavior problems in the children years later. The authors of the new study, out in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, say it’s too early to make any new recommendations for the public just yet. But since the results do suggest that prenatal use may as much as double the risk of behavior disorders in the child, pregnant women may want to take the study into consideration, or talk with their doctors.

The study followed over 64,000 families in the Danish National Birth Cohort. The mothers filled out questionnaires regarding the frequency of their acetaminophen use during pregnancy, and answered questions about various aspects of their children’s behavior. Official diagnoses of hyperkinetic disorder (HKD), a severe form of ADHD, were tracked, as well as the number of prescriptions for ADHD medications (e.g. Ritalin).

Just over half the women taking part in the study used acetaminophen during pregnancy.

Use of the drug was strongly linked to increased risk for ADHD in the children in the first seven years of life, an increase of as much as 30%. Acetaminophen was also linked to a 37% greater risk for having an HKD diagnosis. And the more often the pregnant mothers used the drug, the higher their children’s risk of behavioral problems.

“When women reported having used acetaminophen for 20 or more weeks during pregnancy, the risk for HKD diagnosis in children almost doubled,” the authors write. And the odds of the children being prescribed an ADHD medication rose by 50%.

The results held up even when factors like maternal mental health, inflammation, and infection during pregnancy were accounted for.

Acetaminophen can cross the placenta, making its way to the  fetus and its delicate developing nervous system. The drug is a known endocrine (hormone) disrupter, and has previously been linked to undescended testes in male infants. Since the maternal hormone environment plays a critical role in the development of the fetus, the authors say that it’s “possible that acetaminophen may interrupt brain development by interfering with maternal hormones or via neurotoxicity such as the induction of oxidative stress that can cause neuronal death.”

All this said, causation can’t be determined from the current study – there is only a correlation between a mother’s acetaminophen use and behavioral/attention problems in the child. So there could be another factor or multiple factors at play, which haven’t been teased apart yet. And behavioral and attention problems are likely to have multiple causes, both genetic and environmental. For these reasons, the authors say that it’s too early to make any specific recommendations for pregnant women just yet.

But, they add, if causation should some day be demonstrated, then “acetaminophen should no longer be considered a safe drug for use in pregnancy.”

The authors of an accompanying editorial also point out that the results “underline the importance of not taking a drug’s safety during pregnancy for granted.” More research, they urge, will certainly be needed to address the remaining questions.

In the meantime, it may be wise to cut down on acetaminophen if you’re pregnant – it certainly shouldn’t be used routinely or for long periods. But talk with your doctor if you have questions about this, or any medications you’re taking.

Follow me @alicewalton or find me on Facebook.

Source: Forbes Business

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Canada suspends issuance of visas to Ebola-hit African countries
Ottawa, Nov 1 (IANS) Canada has suspended issuance of visas to residents of West African countries with "widespread and persistent-intense transmission" of Ebola virus disease, a media report said Friday.
 
 
Chinese unmanned lunar orbiter returns home
Beijing, Nov 1 (IANS) China succeeded Saturday in the world's first mission to the Moon and back, becoming the third nation to do so after the former Soviet Union and the US.
 
 
China pledges $81 mn financial assistance for Afghanistan
Beijing, Oct 31 (IANS) China Friday pledged to provide non-reimbursable assistance of 500 million yuan (about 81 million dollars) to Afghanistan this year at an international meeting on Afghanistan held here.
 
 
EU seeks talks with Russia over goods duties: WTO
Geneva, Oct 31 (IANS) The European Union (EU) has sought a consultation with Russia over the tariffs the latter imposed on certain agricultural and manufactured goods, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) said Friday.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Canada suspends issuance of visas to Ebola-hit African countries
Ottawa, Nov 1 (IANS) Canada has suspended issuance of visas to residents of West African countries with "widespread and persistent-intense transmission" of Ebola virus disease, a media report said Friday. The Canadian...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Sheen keen to return to 'Two and a Half Men'
Los Angeles, Nov 1 (IANS) Actor Charlie Sheen says he is open to a return to popular TV show "Two and a Half Men". Sheen, who was was fired from the sitcom in March 2011 after a series of negative headlines, says he...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
14 killed in Honduras bus crash
Tegucigalpa, Nov 1 (IANS) At least 14 people were killed and scores injured when a bus carrying them plunged into a ravine in western Honduras, media reports said Friday. The accident, which occurred early in the day...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
US urges peaceful transition of power in Burkina Faso
Washington, Nov 1 (IANS) The US Friday called for a "peaceful" transition of power in Burkina Faso, but refused to label the military's take-over as a coup. "We underscored our commitment to peaceful transitions of...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
'Interstellar' about bonds of love: Jessica Chastain
Los Angeles, Nov 1 (IANS) Actress Jessica Chastain says that her forthcoming science fiction "Interstellar" is also about fathers and the bonds of love. In the movie, she plays Matthew McConaughey's character's...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Chinese unmanned lunar orbiter returns home
Beijing, Nov 1 (IANS) China succeeded Saturday in the world's first mission to the Moon and back, becoming the third nation to do so after the former Soviet Union and the US. The test lunar orbiter, nicknamed "Xiaofei...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Avril Lavigne feels 'a bit lost'
Avril Lavigne feels ''a bit lost'' amid rumors her marriage to Chad Kroeger is on the rocks. The 'Here's to Never Growing Up' singer, who recently celebrated her 30th birthday without her husband, reportedly thinks her...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Scott Disick is battling severe anxiety
Scott Disick admits his anxiety makes him ''literally want to jump out of my skin.'' The 31-year-old reality TV star - whose longtime girlfriend Kourtney Kardashian is set to give birth to their third child in December...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Demi Lovato wants to be 'sexier' this Halloween
Demi Lovato says working out has boosted her confidence. The 22-year-old singer, who sought treatment for a number of issues, including an eating disorder, in rehab in late 2010, is planning to wear a ''sexier''...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Usher's son is his toughest critic
Usher's son doesn't think he's a great singer. The 'She Came To Give It To You' hitmaker admits his youngest child, Nayvid, five, is very critical of his performances. The 36-year-old star said: ''He doesn't care about...
Read more on Celebrity Balla