2014-06-13

Now Tylenol, Pregnancy, and ADHD

Now Tylenol, Pregnancy, and ADHD

As followers of our postings know, acetaminophen, the active drug in Tylenol, has been associated with increased risk of asthma developing in childhood.  This is why we recommend the use of ibuprofen for pain and fever control in children.

Now this spring, the Journal of the American Medical Association, Pediatrics, published a very intriguing study of the risk of being hyperactive, using ADHD medication, or having ADHD behaviors,  at age 7 years old- each in relation to whether the mother used acetaminophen during that child's pregnancy.

The results were rather interesting.  The study looked at 64,000 Danish children and their mothers during 1996-2002.

About half the mothers used acetaminophen during pregnancy.   

If a mother used acetaminophen during pregnancy, the risk of her child having each of the three outcomes by age 7 years old went up as follows:

  • For being hyperactive the risk went up 37%
  • For taking ADHD medications the risk went up 29%
  • For having ADHD behaviors the risk went up 13%
If the use of acetaminophen was during more than one trimester the risks were even higher.

The higher the dosage of acetaminophen used, the higher the risk for each outcome.

JAMA Pediatr: 2014; 168 (4): 313-320.  doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.4914


BOTTOM LINE
This study does not prove that taking acetaminophen during pregnancy can cause a child to have ADHD or hyperactivity.

But, it does relate the two, and until further study is conducted we would extend our recommendation to avoid exposing your child to acetaminophen to pregnancy.

Dr. Arthur Lavin





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2 comments:

  1. Brandlistuen et al also showed "substantially adverse developmental outcomes" with >28 days of acetaminophen exposure during pregnancy. http://bit.ly/1eG2K9u

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  2. It is also insufficiently well known IMO that many things, including alcohol and other drugs, can deplete glutathione stores in the liver, and once that happens, acetaminophen becomes acutely toxic, being responsible for large numbers of accidental deaths as well as liver transplants. I understand some countries have considered restricting the sale of acetaminophen unless bound with acetylcysteine or some other glutathione precursor, but this would come with problems of its own such as common anaphylactic reactions in some people. Our family will NOT use it for any purpose, period, unless prescribed by a doctor. I'm reluctant even then. Fulminant hepatic failure just doesn't rank all that high on my list of preferred ways to kick the bucket.

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