Acetaminophen use in pregnancy linked to child behavior problems, study finds

Posted at 11:31 AM, Aug 16, 2016

A recent study suggests the use of acetominophen by pregnant women may be linked to multiple behavioral issues in children.

Acetaminophen is a common pain medication and fever reducer used in brands such as Tylenol. The drug is regularly used by people including pregnant women.

The study was published Tuesday in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics. The study found acetaminophen used during pregnancy was linked with a higher risk of hyperkinetic disorders and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder-like behaviors.

The study used a questionnaire that was completed at 18 and 32 weeks of pregnancy as well as shortly after the child turned 5 years old.

"Children exposed to acetaminophen prenatally are at increased risk of multiple behavioral difficulties, and the associations do not appear to be explained by unmeasured behavioral or social factors linked to acetaminophen use insofar as they are not observed for postnatal or partner’s acetaminophen use," the study reported. 

The study was led by Dr. Evie Stergiakouli, who is a researcher in genetic epidemiology and statistics genetics at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.

But only 5 percent of the children studied were affected by the behavioral issues, Stergiakouli told ABC News.

“This does not mean it is not safe during pregnancy," Stergiakouli told ABC News. "Women should still continue to use acetaminophen as required according to their physician, because the risk of not treating fever or pain can be much higher than risk of behavioral issues in offspring."