Acetaminophen Taken During Pregnancy Linked To Behavioral Problems In Children

First Posted: Aug 16, 2016 06:44 AM EDT

A new study has revealed that women who take acetaminophen during pregnancy will most likely have a hyperactive child. Researchers said that prenatal exposure to the medication was associated with a higher risk of having children who show emotional or behavioral symptoms.

CNN reported that Acetaminophen, also known as paracetamol, is the most commonly used drug to relieve pain and fever. This is also known as the active ingredient in Tylenol and hundreds of over-the-counter and prescription medicine, explained the Food and Drug Administration website. The study also revealed that more than half of all pregnant women in the United States and Europe use acetaminophen which is also an ingredient in medicines for allergies, colds, flu and sleeplessness.

The findings "demonstrated that children exposed prenatally to acetaminophen in the second and third trimesters are at increased risk of multiple behavioral difficulties," the researchers, led by Evie Stergiakouli, a lecturer in genetic epidemiology and statistical genetics at the University of Bristol in England, wrote in their study.

According to the LA Times, the research published on Monday in the JAMA Pediatrics discovered that women who use of acetaminophen at 18 and 32 weeks of pregnancy can be linked with an increased chance of reporting a problematic behaviors when the resulting child reach the age of 7. Researchers explained that women who took the medication at 18 weeks of gestation were 42 percent more likely to report their children being hyperactive, and 31 percent more likely to report problems in their children's behavior.

Furthermore, researchers also claimed that women who took the drug at 32 weeks of gestation have a 29 percent risk of having children with emotional problems and also had a 46 percent greater risk of having a child with "total difficulties." The explained that total difficulties included hyperactivity, and conduct and emotional symptoms, as well as trouble with peer relationships.

"It is important to note there are no studies demonstrating a causal link between acetaminophen use during pregnancy and adverse effects on child development," said Marc Boston, a spokesman for McNeil Consumer Healthcare, the maker of Tylenol. Boston also added that the researchers themselves have said that "further studies are required" to determine the link between behavior problems and prenatal exposure to acetaminophen, Live Science reported.

Dr. Hal C. Lawrence, CEO of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, also expressed his opinion on the matter saying that the current study did not analyze significant details, such as the exact dose taken or the reasons why a mother needed to take medication.

"Behavioral disorders are multifactorial and very difficult to associate with a singular cause," Lawrence said. "The brain does not stop developing until at least 15 months of age, which leaves room for children to be exposed to a number of factors that could potentially lead to behavioral issues."

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