A new study has found a link between taking acetaminophen — also known as paracetamol, brand name Tylenol — while pregnant, and hyperactivity, attention problems, and other difficult behaviors in young children.
Using questionnaire and school information from Bristol’s Children of the 90s study, researchers examined 14,000 children.
When they were seven months pregnant 43 percent of their mothers said they had taken paracetamol “sometimes or more often” during the previous three months.
Researchers then examined results of the children’s memory, IQ, and pre-school development tests, temperament and behavior measures.
The researchers found an association between paracetamol intake and hyperactivity and attention problems, as well as with other difficult behaviors with young children. However, this was no longer the case by the time the children reached the end of primary school.
Boys appeared to be more susceptible than girls to the possible behavioral effects of the drug, the researchers noted.
“Our findings add to a series of results concerning evidence of the possible adverse effects of taking paracetamol during pregnancy, such as issues with asthma or behavior in the offspring. It reinforces the advice that women should be cautious when taking medication during pregnancy and to seek medical advice where necessary,” said Professor Jean Golding, O.B.E., who led the new study and was also the founder of the University of Bristol’s Children of the 90s study.
“It is important that our findings are tested in other studies,” she added. “We were not in a position to show a causal link, rather an association between two outcomes. It would also be useful now to assess whether older children and adults are free of difficult behavioral problems if their mother had taken paracetamol.”
The study was published in Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology.
Source: University of Bristol