Tylenol Use During Pregnancy May Increase ADHD Risk for Children

Posted on Sep 8, 2014 in Autism, Chronic Disease

A study just published in JAMA Pediatrics finds that Tylenol (acetaminophen) taken by women during their pregnancy may raise the risk of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) and similar disorders in their children up to 40%—with the risk increasing the more acetaminophen the mother takes.

spilled pillsAcetaminophen can cross the placental barrier, and the study’s authors say it is plausible that the drug may interrupt fetal brain development by interfering with maternal hormones or through neurotoxicity.

Infections such as influenza in pregnancy are known to affect the brain development of infants—they’re linked to autism, for instance. So the researchers in this study asked women if they were taking acetaminophen to reduce a fever to treat flu symptoms. Even when taking this into account, women who took acetaminophen were more likely to have children later diagnosed with ADHD.

This isn’t the first study to note the connection between a mother’s Tylenol use and her child’s reaction to the toxic drug. A study published late last year showed that women taking acetaminophen during pregnancy increased the risk of their children having serious behavior problems at age 3 by an overwhelming 70%.

Troublingly, some conventional physicians are dismissing the study out of hand, stating that a cause-and-effect relationship hasn’t yet been proven and that further study is required. Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, stated, “From a pediatric perspective, the editorial did not recommend a change in practice, and that seems reasonable. I don’t think we know that anything is safer than acetaminophen.”

Nothing safer than acetaminophen? Every year, 78,000 people go to the emergency room from intentional or accidental acetaminophen overdose; 33,000 are hospitalized, and about 450 die. The problem has gotten so bad that the FDA has asked doctors to stop prescribing any medication that has more than 325 mg of acetaminophen per dose.

The study soundly contradicts Dr. Adesman’s statement about Tylenol’s safety. The researchers put it this way: “We always thought acetaminophen is kind of harmless and not so bad to take during pregnancy, and probably it is, if you take it once or twice. But if you take it repeatedly, you see these risks creeping up. It’s not the greatest news for [pregnant] women. We really don’t have a safe drug, I’m afraid” (italics ours).

Unsurprisingly, the manufacturer is denying any accountability, citing the lack of “randomized controlled studies demonstrating a causal link.” We would note that the lack of causal evidence was cited for the relationship between smoking and cancer as well!

The drug maker’s further statement that Tylenol has “one of the most favorable safety profiles” is ridiculous if one simply looks at the data, as we reported in January. According to the FDA, acetaminophen was the leading cause of acute liver failure in Americans between 1998 and 2003. There is no reason to think this has changed since. Acetaminophen is dangerous because just a small extra amount can create a dangerous overdose: twice the maximum safe dose taken over just several days could cause severe liver damage. Sometimes, according to the former head of the Drug Information Center at the Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania, “the difference between a safe dose and a dangerous dose is two Extra Strength Tylenol tablets.”

Dr. Joseph A. Mercola has some advice for a toxin-free pregnancy: avoiding any and all unnecessary drugs and vaccinations; buy organic foods to reduce exposure to pesticides and GMOs; avoid items that contain BPA; and use natural cleaning products and toiletries in your home.

As if that weren’t enough to worry about, many doctors favor the injection of powerful steroids into the mother when there is any risk of premature birth. These steroids are supposed to increase a premie’s chances of survival, but the positive effects (mostly on the lungs) last only a few days at most. Very few expectant mothers are told the truth—that the injections must be repeated over and over again until the child is born to have any lasting effect.

If Tylenol affects brain development, imagine what these powerful steroids do. And don’t expect to get much information any about long-term side effects. Some of the developmental consequences might not show up for a decade or more, and who can prove that problems at that stage are linked to the pregnancy?

Tell the FDA to change its labeling on drugs containing acetaminophen to provide a warning to pregnant mothers. The evidence is clear—don’t wait until more young lives are harmed!

 

Written by: Alliance for Natural Health