Evidence Shows That Acetaminophen Consumption During Pregnancy Leads To Behavioral Problems

Expectant mothers are advised by their doctors to take acetaminophen, an over-the-counter medication that is found in Tylenol, which is commonly used for headaches or a fever reducer because it is considered to be safe for both mother and child.

However, a recent study published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics showed that many researchers from various organizations took part in the study and they concluded that the medication was in fact linked to behavioral issues for those children whose mothers took the medication.

Researcher, Dr. Evie Stergiakouli, lead author of the study, indicated that it was a controlled analysis, taking other variables into account, such a genetic and social factors.

“We have evidence that acetaminophen used during pregnancy has a biological mechanism of action in regard to increasing behavioral effects during childhood,” she told ABC News.

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In the study, 7,800 women living in Bristol, England were surveyed in a seven-year time span and the children of women who took acetaminophen, while pregnant, had 31% increased risk of having children with behavioral issues, such as hyperactivity and emotional problems.

Despite the research, Stergiakouli stated, “This does not mean it is not safe during pregnancy. Women should still continue to use acetaminophen as required according to their physician because the risk of not treating fever or pain can be much higher than risk of behavioral issues in offspring. Fever increases the risk of pre-term labor if untreated during pregnancy.”

Some doctors, however, are skeptical. Dr. Max Wiznitzer, a pediatric neurologist at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, indicated that the mothers in the study may not have fully reported their symptoms and that other factors may account for the findings.

American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology said there was not enough evidence to advise pregnant women to stop taking the medication, stating, “The study also has several limitations as it is not clear what dose of acetaminophen the mothers took, how long they took it, and for what reason.”

Further studies are needed in order to come to a consensus about the medication’s link with behavioral problems.

Video: ABC News Go