A new study out is looking for a link between acetaminophen use and hyper active disorders like attention deficit hyper activity disorder (ADHD). Researchers out of the University of California in Los Angeles told Fox News that they were worried that acetaminophen was somehow influencing the brain during fetal development, this according to the author of the study, Dr. Beate Ritz. The research published in the Journal of American Medicine Association Pediatrics, researchers looked at over 64,000 moms and children who were enrolled in the Danish National Birth Cohort between 1996 and 2002.
What the researchers found was a 20 percent rise in the risk of behavioral problems in children for moms who used acetaminophen. According to the study the strongest effect was seen when moms took the painkillers during all three trimesters. Women who used the minimum of one week also had an increased risk. The more frequent the use the more likely a hospital diagnosis of ADHD or hyperkinetic disorder (HKD). The study also suggested that children whose mothers took Tylenol were 13 percent more likely to show ADHD type behaviors, or have some sort of conduct problems. They were also 37 percent more likely to be diagnosed with HKD or high-end ADHD. Also according to the study these same children were 29 percent more likely to be on some sort of behavioral modification drug.
Ritz suggests that while the exact cause of behavioral dysfunctions is not yet known there is a causal effect on pregnant women who use acetaminophen. Research has already shown that acetaminophen can disrupt the body’s endocrine system as well as the hormone system. Further, exposure to endocrine disruptor’s in a fetus may affect neurodevelopment. In this case, Ritz suggests, women especially pregnant women be more careful about what they put into their bodies. Medication that was at one time thought to be harmless may not be.
Another one of the researchers, Zeyan Liew, an epidemiologist stated that “the results reflect a casual association.” He went on to say that acetaminophen should no longer be considered safe during pregnancy because it may be linked to ADHD. While Dr. Joanne Stone, director of maternal-fetal medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital cautions that patients should not panic if they took Tylenol during their pregnancy, and she adds that the current practice of prescribing Tylenol should not change. Other researchers weighing in on the result take the same stance as Dr. Stone, cautioning that more research is necessary before the full effect of the study is understood.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 11 percent or 6.4 million children in the US have ADHD. This disorder is characterized by such behavioral problems such as impulse control, difficulty getting along with others and trouble paying attention. Researchers stress that it is important to note the study was observational, so that means it does not imply a cause-and-effect relationship. While moms can be nervous about acetaminophen possibly being linked to ADHD through pregnancy, there is no reason to stop taking the pain medication. Dr. Jeff Chapa the head of maternal-fetal medicine at Cleveland Clinic suggests pregnant women look into alternative instead of taking painkillers, if they are concerned about the effects.
By Rachel Woodruff