Study Finds Link Between Paracetamol Intake During Pregnancy And ADHD In Kids

Taking paracetamol during pregnancy may increase risk of ADHD in children. Researchers said the findings add to the “concerning evidence” of potential side effects of the medication in development of babies. 

The new study, published in the journal Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, shows a link between paracetamol exposure and hyperactivity and attention problems early in life. The drug is a commonly recommended treatment by doctors to help women relieve pain during pregnancy. 

Researchers at  the University of Bristol in England analyzed data from Bristol's Children of the 90s study that involved 14,000 children. They looked into the potential effects of paracetamol in mid-pregnancy and the behavior of the offspring at ages six months to 11 years.

The Bristol’s Children of the 90s study has been following participants since 1991. The long-term effort started with pregnant women and continued to monitor the health and development of parents, their children and grandchildren until to date. 

In the latest research, the team followed the participants until the age of 17, monitoring their memory, IQ and school performance. As the women reached seven months of pregnancy, the researchers asked if they have been taking paracetamol. 

Nearly half or 43 percent of the participants admitted to taking the medication in the past three months. The children of these paracetamol-taking women developed hyperactivity and attention problems after birth. 

Researchers said boys appeared with higher risks of ADHD and other behavioral effects of the drug compared to female counterparts. 

"Our findings add to a series of results concerning evidence of the possible adverse effects of taking paracetamol during pregnancy such as issues with asthma or behavior in the offspring,” Jean Golding, lead researcher and founder of the University of Bristol's Children of the 90s study, said in a statement. “It reinforces the advice that women should be cautious when taking medication during pregnancy and to seek medical advice where necessary.”

The findings support previous studies that examined the side effects of paracetamol. Two separate teams from Norway and California both found that the drug caused development and behavior problems in children aged three to seven years. 

The risk was higher in children of women who consumed paracetamol for more than eight days during pregnancy. Golding noted that further studies are still needed to confirm their new findings. 

The researcher said future efforts will assess if behavioral problems linked to paracetamol intake during pregnancy would continue among older children and adults. 

pregnant Pregnancy is among the most sensitive stages of life among women and the scientific community continues to find health conditions and factors that may put both the mother and baby at risk. Pixabay