Study Finds No Link Between Acetaminophen Use During Pregnancy and Neurodevelopmental Disorders

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Updated 2024-04-13 17:36:22 | Published 2024-04-13 17:36:22
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Acetaminophen Use During Pregnancy

Recent research has dispelled concerns that taking acetaminophen during pregnancy increases the risk of autism and ADHD in children, attributing potential risks to other factors such as genetics. Published in JAMA, the study analyzed data from over 2 million Swedish children monitored for up to 26 years. Initial findings indicated a slight increase in neurodevelopmental disorders among children whose mothers used acetaminophen while pregnant. However, a follow-up sibling study, comparing siblings where acetaminophen was used in one pregnancy but not the other, found no increased risk, pointing towards alternative explanations for the disorders.

The comprehensive report included both the initial findings and the sibling comparisons. It is notable that data on parental neurodevelopmental disorders is sparse since such diagnoses were less common when the parents were children.

Brian Lee, co-senior author and associate professor at Drexel University's Dornsife School of Public Health, emphasized the study's reassurance to pregnant women about the safety of acetaminophen regarding autism risk. He advises consulting with a physician before starting any medication during pregnancy.

The study also reported that about 9% of the 185,909 children whose mothers took acetaminophen during pregnancy were diagnosed with autism, ADHD, or an intellectual disability, compared to 7.5% of the roughly 2.3 million children whose mothers did not use the drug. Adjusting for various factors, researchers noted a small increased risk in disorders among the acetaminophen-exposed group but deemed it statistically insignificant.

Dr. Catherine Caponero of the Cleveland Clinic finds reassurance in the study’s results, citing acetaminophen as one of the safer medication options for managing pain and fever during pregnancy. Additionally, J. Blake Turner of Columbia University highlighted the risks of untreated fevers during pregnancy, which have been associated with a higher risk of autism.

Manish Arora from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai praised the sibling analysis method used in the study for offering a new perspective that is often overlooked in similar research, emphasizing the critical role of genetics in the development of neurodevelopmental disorders.

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