The association between acetaminophen — the active ingredient in common pain reliever drugs — was first reported in July 2016. Previous studies linked the drug to an increase in the risk of autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It was worrisome because acetaminophen, more commonly known here as paracetamol, is one of the few drugs known to be safe for preggos and their unborn babies.
Now, a study seems to support the association, suggesting the long-term use of acetaminophen while preg adhd nant can double the unborn baby's risk of developing ADHD. Researchers stressed that the drug does not cause theneurodevelopmental disorder.
The results of the study, published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), showed that pregnant women who took acetaminophen in one trimester had a seven percent risk that their baby will be diagnosed with ADHD. Kids of preggos who took the drug in two trimesters had a 22% increased risk, while those who took acetaminophen in three trimesters showed a 27% chance of having a child with ADHD. The researchers estimated that about four percent of the children who participated in the study will have an ADHD diagnosis by age 13.
After taking medical conditions and risk for ADHD in the family into account, researchers found "that using acetaminophen for 29 days or more during pregnancy gave a 220% increase in risk for ADHD in the child," Eivind Ystrøm, a senior researcher at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health told CNN. Compared to preggos who completely avoided taking acetaminophen during their pregnancy, preggos who took the drug for fever and infections for 22 to 28 days were more than six times more likely to have kids with ADHD, Reuters reported.
The study also showed that even fathers who take the medication regularly before conception of the baby could add to increasing his child's risk for ADHD.
Dads who took the pain reliever for 29 days or more before conception also produced the same doubled risk to their baby. Researchers are still unsure how to interpret the link, but Ystrøm suggested that "it could be that fathers who use a lot of acetaminophen have a higher genetic risk for ADHD" or that long-term use of the medicine might lead to changes in sperm.
CONTINUE READING BELOW
The researchers used the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study to gather data. They looked into 95,242 mothers, 75,217 fathers and 112,973 children born between 1999 and 2009, including 2,246 children diagnosed with ADHD. The women were invited to participate after a routine Week 18 ultrasound.
In case you're already panicking, it is worth noting that the study did not discourage pregnant women from taking acetaminophen or paracetamol to relieve symptoms such as fever, headache, or pain for short periods of time during their pregnancy. In fact, use of acetaminophen for less than seven days by pregnant women was associated with a decreased risk of ADHD in offspring, the researchers said.
In both CNN and Reuters reports, doctors were skeptical about the study because the "researchers lacked data on the severity of conditions that led women to use the drug" and "of the way in which a diagnosis of ADHD is assessed." One doctor even said it did not add "anything new to our medical knowledge."
Ystrom advised as well that "those women who are in need of long-term pain relief should consult their physician and make a treatment plan together."
Better check with your doctor first before taking any medication and even to rule out any underlying illness that may require a more serious medical attention.