Taking a popular over-the-counter pain reliever called acetaminophen during pregnancy may increase one’s odds of having offspring with ADHD or autism, a new study has found. The researchers looked at the concentration of acetaminophen in umbilical cord plasma and compared it to the number of cases of kids who had ASD or ADHD, finding a ‘significant’ link between the two.
The study was recently published in JAMA, where researchers detail their work on looking for an association between acetaminophen exposure in the womb and the risk of being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in childhood.
Acetaminophen is a popular pain reliever available over-the-counter in the United States; it is sold under a variety of brand names like Tylenol and as an ingredient in many cold medications. The pain reliever is popular due to its relatively low risk (when taken by healthy adults in the proper manner) and its lack of addiction potential.
The new study looked at fetal exposure to acetaminophen based on umbilical cord biomarkers during pregnancy; the data comes from the Boston Birth Cohort and pertains to 996 mother-infant pairings. The researchers found that these biomarkers indicate fetal exposure was ‘significantly’ linked to the risk of ASD and ADHD in childhood.
The researchers say their results indicate that taking this pain reliever during pregnancy may increase the risk of these two conditions; as such, additional research into the potential risk should be undertaken. Though many substances may be safe for adults to take, there are a number of restrictions during pregnancy; women should talk to their doctor to ensure a substance is safe before taking it.