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Does Taking Acetaminophen Cause ADHD?

Taking Acetaminophen While Pregnant May Increase Your Child's Risk of Having ADHD

If acetaminophen has been your go-to choice for treating minor aches, pains, and fevers, you might now think twice before popping one if you're pregnant. According to a study done by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that appeared in the November issue of Pediatrics, expectant mothers who take acetaminophen regularly have a higher risk of delivering a baby who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). And the craziest part? Apparently a father who takes acetaminophen pre-conception can increase the risk, too.

Researchers found that expectant women who took acetaminophen long-term — or for 29 days running during their pregnancy — ended up having kids with an above average risk of ADHD. Fathers who took the pain-reliever for more than 29 days at a time prior to conception were found to increase their unborn child's risk as well. However, pregnant women who took it for less than seven days while pregnant were found to have a less than average risk of having a child with the condition, while the aforementioned mothers using the pain-reliever long-term were found to have a twofold increased risk. In simpler terms, it was discovered that the more acetaminophen you take while pregnant, the higher your risk could be for having a baby with ADHD.

However, this isn't exactly breaking news for women. Medical experts warned expectant mamas about taking the over-the-counter pain reliever, Tylenol (less commonly known as acetaminophen), back in August 2016, but their findings were more focused on when during the pregnancy the drug was taken, rather than for how long. What's arguably the most concerning about all of these findings, however, is that acetaminophen has been recommended for treating aches and pains in pregnant women for years.

Is the correlation between acetaminophen and ADHD set in stone? Not completely, but it certainly prompts further scientific investigation. Because study authors admit that they still have a long way to go when it comes to researching the over-the-counter drug's effect on unborn children, it's always a good idea to talk to your doctor about potential risks, or if you have any questions or concerns about your own pregnancy.

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