Safety warning! Paracetamol use in pregnancy linked to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in kids
Paracetamol has been the preferred choice and used routinely during all stages of pregnancy to reduce a high temperature and for pain relief. There's no clear evidence it has any harmful effects on an unborn baby. But a new study has found strong links between its use during pregnancy to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in kids.
Obtaining a strong link between the use of paracetamol in mid-pregnancy and behaviour of offspring, a study showed that paracetamol use between 18 and 32 weeks gestation is linked with negative neurocognitive outcomes leading to hyperactivity and attention problems in pre-school of the child. The study has been published in the Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology.
Backing the previous studies which have suggested possible adverse effects of paracetamol (acetaminophen) consumption in pregnancy on the cognition, and childhood behaviour, particularly involving hyperactivity and/or attention problems, the present study used a large prospective cohort of 14,062 children, linked to information on child cognitive and behavioural outcomes from 6 months to 17 years and have come into a conclusion that paracetamol consumption between 18 and 32 weeks gestation was associated with adverse trends in pre‐school child behavior, but the associations were no longer present by the end of primary school (age 10‐11 years). This particular Trend was more profound in boys than girls.
"Our findings add to a series of results concerning evidence of the possible adverse effects of taking paracetamol during pregnancy such as issues with asthma or behavior in the offspring. It reinforces the advice that women should be cautious when taking medication during pregnancy and to seek medical advice where necessary.
Using questionnaire and school information from Bristol's Children of the 90s study researchers examined 14,000 children. When they were seven months pregnant 43 percent of their mothers said they had taken paracetamol 'sometimes' or more often during the previous three months. Researchers examined results of the children's memory, IQ and pre-school development tests, temperament and behavior measures.
They found an association between paracetamol intake and hyperactivity and attention problems as well as with other difficult behaviors with young children that were not accounted for by the reasons why the medication was taken or social factors. However, this was no longer the case by the time the children reached the end of primary school. Boys appeared to be more susceptible than girls to the possible behavioral effects of the drug.
The author commented that "It is important that our findings are tested in other studies - we were not in a position to show a causal link, rather an association between two outcomes. It would also be useful now to assess whether older children and adults are free of difficult behavioral problems if their mother had taken paracetamol."
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