Pregnancy can be a really stressful time! When you find out you're pregnant, suddenly you're faced with a whole bunch of lifestyle changes you need to make to insure the safety of you and your baby during the pregnancy. From what you eat and drink to how you sleep, there are so many things we need to do differently during the 10ish months we're pregnant. One of the hardest things for a lot of expectant moms is knowing which, if any, medications we're allowed to take. Because let's be honest - we still get sick! We still get colds and headaches and injure ourselves. Many of us have chronic conditions that we manage with daily medication. And all of that has to be deemed safe to continue during pregnancy.
Sometimes, we find out that a simple over-the-counter medication could pose some pretty serious risks to the developing fetus. Many women don't think twice before popping a couple of Tylenol for a headache or fever. But a new study shows that the common pain reliever and fever reducer could be linked to an increase in ADHD in children when taken during pregnancy. If you're expecting, you'll want to read this.
The study, which was published in JAMA Pediatrics, was conducted by a team of international researchers led by Dr. Jorn Olsen, at the University of Aarhus, in Denmark. The research team found a very strong correlation between the use of acetaminophen in pregnant women and the rate of ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) in their children. There was also a correlation between acetaminophen use and the rate at which meds for ADHD are prescribed to children.
Pregnant women in the study who used acetaminophen to treat things like headaches during pregnancy were 37% more likely to have a child diagnosed with ADHD, while the risk of their child needing meds to treat ADHD went up 29%. This is compared to pregnant women who didn't use the OTC medicine at all during pregnancy. These increases were present even after accounting for factors like why the woman needed to take the drug to begin with.
The study is certainly troubling, given how common acetaminophen use is. But the findings suggest there may be something about that particular drug that affects fetal development. If you have a medical need that requires you take Tylenol or other drugs that contain acetaminophen, make sure to discuss the risks with your doctor. If you don't need to take it, it might be better to find a more suitable alternative during pregnancy.