Autism and ADHD in Children Could Be Caused By the Usage of Acetaminophen During Pregnancy

Autism and ADHD in Children May Be Caused By the Usage of Acetaminophen During Pregnancy

In life, people take some actions seeking relief, not knowing the effect of those actions directly or indirectly.

Such is the use of acetaminophen during pregnancy.

Is it true that using acetaminophen during pregnancy causes autism and ADHD in children?

Acetaminophen (or paracetamol) is taken by roughly 52 percent of pregnant women and mothers to relieve discomfort.

It is considered a safe medication for fever and pain during pregnancy.

However, studies have shown that continuous use of this painkiller can harm an unborn child.

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Studies and Research on the Use of Acetaminophen During Pregnancy

Studies on more than 70,000 children have been done. These studies suggest a link between taking acetaminophen during pregnancy and an increase in the risk of children developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The study also shows that if women take acetaminophen in the first 32 weeks of pregnancy, it could lead to attention deficit symptoms which might result in autism and ADHD in the child.

It has been discovered that male offspring might have an increased risk of developing autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

According to University of Barcelona researchers, children who are exposed to acetaminophen before birth were 19% more likely to have autism spectrum disorder (ASD) symptoms and 21% more likely to have ADHD symptoms than children whose mothers did not use acetaminophen during pregnancy.

No link was found between the administration of paracetamol after birth and the onset of autism spectrum disorder symptoms.

Effects on the Child

According to a recent study, mothers who took acetaminophen near the end of their pregnancy will likely to have a kid with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism.

The odds of these developmental abnormalities were more than twice as high among children exposed to acetaminophen near the time of birth. This is according to blood tests taken from the mother and the umbilical cord shortly after birth. A stronger link was seen between acetaminophen exposure and ADHD in children.

Acetaminophen usage during pregnancy is connected to ADHD and autism in children in two previous studies.

However, those investigations relied solely on the mother's recollections of consuming acetaminophen.

"The use of acetaminophen by mothers is consistently related with an elevated risk of developmental impairments, including ADHD and perhaps [autism]," according to principal study author Dr. Xiaobin Wang. 

The Thin Line

This latest study included over 1,000 children. Their average age was ten, and boys made up somewhat more than half of the group.

Only ADHD affected about 26 percent of the children. Nearly 7 percent of participants had autism, and 4 percent had ADHD and autism.

A little more than a third had another developmental impairment. Almost a third did not have any developmental issues.

As seen by Wang, acetaminophen can pass through the placenta in prior studies. Because the drug's metabolites, or breakdown products, seem to last for about two days, researchers can estimate maternal acetaminophen consumption in the hours leading up to delivery.

The data was acquired from the Boston Birth Cohort to gain a good knowledge of the potential impact of acetaminophen exposure on the development of individual neurodevelopmental disorders in neonates.

This database only contains single-child births.

It excludes children born with major birth defects, including those created through IVF.

More research, according to Wang, is required. She claimed she was unaware of any safe substitutes for pain or fever management during pregnancy.

If a pregnant woman takes acetaminophen, some medication enters the child's system.

Therefore, health scientists advise that more research be conducted to know the link between taking acetaminophen during pregnancy and children's risk of autism and ADHD.

Despite the data, one cannot directly say acetaminophen contributes to autism and ADHD at a greater percentage.

While the study revealed a link between an expecting mother's usage of acetaminophen and her child's development of ADHD and maybe autism, it cannot prove a conclusive spark relationship.

Children's Behavior Later

As per research's background details, acetaminophen during pregnancy appears to impact brain cells and certain hormone levels, potentially disrupting brain development.

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and ADHD grow and develop differently than other kids. Children without autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and ADHD symptoms develop at roughly the same rate, in domains like motor, verbal, cognitive, and social skills.

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and ADHD symptoms grow at varying speeds in several areas of development.

They may have significant delays in verbal, social, and cognitive skills, but their motor skills may be comparable to other children of their age.

They may excel at some tasks, such as putting puzzles together or solving computer problems, but they struggle with others, such as communicating and establishing friends.

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and ADHD may also learn a difficult skill before an easy one.

For example, a child can read big words yet not know what a "b" sounds like. A child may also gain a skill only to lose it later.

A youngster may be able to say many words at first but then cease talking completely.


Before actually consuming acetaminophen or eliminating it during pregnancy, discuss the advantages and disadvantages with your doctor.

Before taking any prescription or herbal remedies while pregnant, one should visit their doctor. Over-the-counter medications and additives should not be presumed to be completely safe and harmless.

According to some scientists, the wide use of acetaminophen during pregnancy should be closely scrutinized since it may cause a spike in the number of instances of ADHD or autism spectrum disorder.

Although the prevalence in Western countries is only 5 and 1 percent respectively, they have increased in recent years.

Further studies on the possible role of acetaminophen in brain development are necessary, in particular with more precise information on the dose used.


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June 3rd, 2023

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