Did You Know that Acetaminophen Use in Pregnancy is Linked to ADHD?

I read a lot of news articles. This often involves clicking and clicking and clicking to read more and more articles. Imagine my surprise when I cam across this 2017 article and had never heard of this risk! Some experts say that there is not enough evidence to prove a direct link, however in a massive study (data from about 95,000 mothers with children born between 1999 and 2009) discovered a definite link. More research studies will hopefully include looking at other factors such as what symptoms or ailments did the pregnant women take the acetaminophen for and were there links to the symptoms (fever, specific pain or other factors that could cause ADHD.

The study has some very compelling findings that are data driven facts.

They study found that “using acetaminophen for 29 days or more during pregnancy gave a 220% increase in risk for ADHD in the child,” It was also noted that fathers who used the pain reliever for 29 days or longer prior to conception also had twice the number of children with ADHD. Reaserchers suggest that suggested that these finding may indicate that either fathers who consume large amounts of acetaminophen could have a higher genetic risk for ADHD or that long-term use of the medicine might be causing changes in sperm that cause ADHD.

Some Experts are Skeptical

Dr. Alison G. Cahill, a member of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ Committee on Obstetric Practice, who was not involved in the study is a public critic of the findings. She said the study “doesn’t add anything to our medical knowledge.” She cites a flaw in the study by saying that “The researchers also didn’t measure the amount of acetaminophen taken or levels of biomarkers; they used a survey in which patients self-reported the number of days. That is “not informative from a scientific perspective.” source

As far as I am concerned after reading the information, I would say that if I were pregnant I would use acetaminophen as directed but not for longer than a few days at a time. There seems to be some strong, statistical relevance to this study and until findings are researched further, I believe that it is better safe than sorry. According to the direct findings of the study I would certainly be wary of taking the pain medication for more than 7 days in a row.

This article from Medical News Today states that “Of the mothers, almost half (52,707) used acetaminophen during pregnancy. The research team discovered that acetaminophen use for 7 days or fewer during pregnancy was negatively associated with ADHD. However, for longer than 7 days, the risk of ADHD increased with longer periods of use.”

What do you think?

This is the actual journal publication of the study by Eivind Ystrom in the American Association for Pediatrics publication.