Is Acetaminophen Use in Pregnancy Linked to Child Behavioral Problems?

A cohort study published online February 24 in JAMA Pediatrics found that children of women who used the pain reliever acetaminophen  during pregnancy appear to be at higher risk for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)-like behavioral problems and hyperkinetic disorders (HKDs, a severe form of ADHD). Study authors cautioned that causation cannot be inferred from their observed associations, and that a replication of their study is needed.

The study involved 64,322 children and mothers in the Danish National Birth Cohort (1996-2002). More than half of the mothers reported using acetaminophen while pregnant. Childhood behavioral problems were reported on a questionnaire, and HKD diagnoses and ADHD medication prescriptions were collected from Danish registries. The use of acetaminophen during pregnancy appeared to be associated with a higher risk of HKD diagnosis, of using ADHD medications or of having ADHD-like behaviors at age 7 years. The risk increased when mothers used acetaminophen in more than one trimester during pregnancy. Read a news story here. Read the article abstract here.

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