Not so fast. Pregnant women taking acetaminophen may boost the risk of their children developing attention deficit.
by Wayne Kalyn
Reaching for a pain reliever to minimize aches and pains due to pregnancy is standard practice for women, and one that most doctors don’t frown upon or warn against. A new study published in JAMA Pediatrics may force doctors to rethink that practice. It found that children of women who took the drug during pregnancy were about 40 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than children of mothers who took none.
The probability of a child developing ADHD symptoms severe enough to require ADHD medication increased the most — by 63 percent — when the mother took acetaminophen during the last two trimesters, researchers found. The added risk was smallest — about 9 percent — when a pregnant woman reported taking the drug only during her first trimester.
An editorial published alongside the study said it would be wrong for doctors to change their practices based on the study’s findings. Acetaminophen reduces fever, which when left unchecked in pregnant women can be dangerous for the baby and may lead to a lowered IQ.
More studies on the acetaminophen-ADHD link need to be done, but some doctors conclude that the study reinforces the belief that taking the lowest dose of acetaminophen to meet a woman’s pain needs is a good practice.