February 17, 2024 at 12:38 pm

Several Studies Link Tylenol Use During Pregnancy With Attention Deficit Issues Later In Life

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Shutterstock

I have some bad news for you if you’re pregnant (or thinking you might ever be pregnant) – there is now no way for you to safely handle pain while gestating.

For years, the only “safe” pain medication to take while pregnant has been acetaminophen (Tylenol), but recent studies are showing more and more links with attention issues (ADHD) in those kids later in life.

Specifically, the use of acetaminophen during the second trimester is linked to a increase in attention and behavior problems in 2, 3, and 4-year-olds.

To de-escalate, let me say this is linked to “frequent” use, so if you took a few Tylenol for a headache once or twice by pregnant, this is not that.

Source: Shutterstock

The researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, who are tracking how environmental exposures influence child development, collected data from hundreds of children from prenatal exposures until age 4.

Megan Woodbury, who co-led the research, says this is far from the first study to link the drug with poor outcomes during pregnancy.

Another study, also co-led by Woodbury, revealed a link between language delays and acetaminophen exposure during pregnancy.

The mothers in these studies used acetaminophen at least 6 times over the course of their pregnancies – about once every 4-6 weeks. Their children were assessed at age 2,m then again at 3 and 4.

“Our most important finding was that with increasing acetaminophen use by pregnant participants, especially during the second trimester, their children showed more attention-related problems and ADHD-type behaviors, which we call ‘externalizing behaviors,’ at very age we measured.”

If you’re wanting specific examples, they have those, too.

“The kinds of behaviors the caregivers reported included things like the child talking out of turn, not paying attention, not being quiet when they were supposed to be quiet, not sitting down when they were supposed to be sitting down, and being a little aggressive with other children.”

Source: Shutterstock

These kids are too young to be formally diagnosed with ADHD, and the researchers are not suggestion they ever will be – just that, compared to children their age who were not exposed to acetaminophen in utero, they were more hyperactive.

Woodbury says she doesn’t want pregnant women to eschew the use of the drug when necessary, but to reconsider whether they actually need it when aches and pains and fevers are mild.

They hope that with more research, they’ll be able to give expectant mothers specific guidance so they can make better decisions.

For now, I know all of the pregnant mothers out there will do their best.

It’s what they always do.

If you enjoyed that story, check out what happened when a guy gave ChatGPT $100 to make as money as possible, and it turned out exactly how you would expect.