A study from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem adds to prior concerns about prolonged use of acetaminophen (Tylenol) during pregnancy. It has been linked to neurodevelopmental disorders in childhood.
Acetaminophen is one of the most common medications used for treatment of pain and fever reduction during pregnancy and is considered safe in humans. However, evidence of neuro-disruptive properties is accumulating: past studies have shown that long-term administration of low doses of acetaminophen may affect the development of the fetal nervous system, and that this effect is often seen years after exposure during childhood.
Now, researchers led by Dr. Ilan Matok at the Institute for Drug Research in the School of Pharmacy at the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine, together with doctoral student Reem Masarwa, have conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the possible association between prolonged exposure to acetaminophen during pregnancy and the risk for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).
The analysis, which appears in the American Journal of Epidemiology, shows that prolonged exposure to acetaminophen during pregnancy is associated with a 30% increase in relative risk for ADHD (compared to those who did not take acetaminophen during pregnancy) and a 20% increase in relative risk for ASD.
This is the first meta-analysis and the most comprehensive study ever conducted on the possible association between prolonged use of acetaminophen during pregnancy and risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The research data covered 132,738 mother and child pairs with a follow-up period of 3-11 years.
The researchers suggest that if a pregnant woman has fever and/or pain, acetaminophen can be taken for a short period, and if the fever or pain continue beyond that, she should consult her physician regarding further treatment.
Excerpted from press release