Using Acetaminophen During Pregnancy May Increase Risk of ADHD

pregnant woman taking acetaminophen
Pregnancy/Being a Mom

A new study shows that mothers who use acetaminophen during pregnancy may increase their child’s risk of developing childhood attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other emotional and behavior issues. This new study was published in JAMA Pediatrics.

Also known as paracetamol and Tylenol, acetaminophen is used to reduce fever and stop minor aches and pains like headaches or mild joint pain. The ingredient is also found in many other medications for things like allergies, colds, and insomnia. It’s extremely common, with more than half of pregnant women in the United States and Europe using it regularly during their pregnancy, as noted by the study.

For the study, researchers surveyed 7,800 women Bristol in the United Kingdom. Seven years later, they then asked the same women about their child’s behavior. As compared to women who did not take acetaminophen during pregnancy, women who used it were found to have a 42% increase in issues with their child’s behavior later on in life. The medication was also associated with a 31% increased risk of the child developing ADHD and a 29% risk of further emotional issues. [1]

However, researchers note that the study has several limitations and although there is a correlation with acetaminophen and unruly childhood behavior, it is not a clear cause-and-effect relationship. Researchers also noted that they were never given the dosage of the medication ingested by the women during their pregnancy. Dosage could actually affect the outcomes of the child’s future behavior.

Read: The Truth About Drugs Like Tylenol (Acetaminophen)

Officials at the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology said the following about the study:

“The take-aways here are that physicians should not change clinical practice until definitive prospective research is done and, most importantly, patients should not be frightened away from the many benefits of acetaminophen.”

The Consumer Healthcare Products Association were adamant that one of their leading products may not actually be a problem during pregnancy. The organization released the following statement:

“As with any study of associations (as opposed to cause and effect), there is always the possibility that there are other explanations for the observed results. There is no proven mechanism whereby acetaminophen might cause these effects, and it’s important to weigh the benefits and risks of treating pain and fever during pregnancy.”


[1] CNN