Acetaminophen while pregnant is associated with child behavioral problems

Acetaminophen while pregnant is associated with child behavioral problems

Acetaminophen while pregnant is associated with child behavioral problems, according to new research from the United Kingdom.

Evie Stergiakouli, Ph.D., of the University of Bristol, United Kingdom, and coauthors looked at data from 7,796 mothers and studied the associations between acetaminophen intake and child behavioral problems.

The study abstract reported the following results:

Maternal prenatal acetaminophen use at 18 (n = 4415; 53%) and 32 weeks of pregnancy (n = 3381; 42%) was associated with higher odds of having conduct problems (risk ratio [RR], 1.42; 95% CI, 1.25-1.62) and hyperactivity symptoms (RR, 1.31; 95% CI, 1.16-1.49), while maternal acetaminophen use at 32 weeks was also associated with higher odds of having emotional symptoms (RR, 1.29; 95% CI, 1.09-1.53) and total difficulties (RR, 1.46; 95% CI, 1.21-1.77). This was not the case for maternal postnatal (n = 6916; 89%) or partner’s (n = 3454; 84%) acetaminophen use. We found the associations between maternal prenatal acetaminophen use and all the SDQ domains unchanged even after adjusting for maternal postnatal or partner’s acetaminophen use.

In other words, there was a significant association between acetaminophen intake during pregnancy and child behavioral problems. There were 4,415 mothers who reported using acetaminophen at 18 weeks, and 3,381 who reported using acetaminophen at 32 weeks. Five percent of the children had behavioral problems.

Children exposed to acetaminophen use prenatally are at increased risk of multiple behavioral difficulties. … Our findings suggest that the association between acetaminophen use during pregnancy and offspring behavioral problems in childhood may be due to an intrauterine mechanism. Further studies are required to elucidate mechanisms behind this association as well as to test alternatives to a causal explanation. Given the widespread use of acetaminophen among pregnant women, this can have important implications on public health advice,” the authors write.

But the authors also noted: “However, the risk of not treating fever or pain during pregnancy should be carefully weighed against any potential harm of acetaminophen to the offspring.”

The study showing that acetaminophen while pregnant is associated with child behavioral problems was published in JAMA Pediatrics.

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1. “Is Acetaminophen Use When Pregnant Associated with Kids’ Behavioral Problems?JAMA Network. JAMA Network, n.d. Web. 16 Aug. 2016.
2. “Acetaminophen Use During Pregnancy and Behavioral Problems in Childhood.” JAMA Pediatrics. JAMA Pediatrics, n.d. Web. 16 Aug. 2016.

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