With up to 70 percent of pregnant American women reaching for acetaminophen to treat pain, infection, and fever, debate about the drug's safety is ongoing. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) always recommend consulting a doctor prior to using any pain medication during pregnancy.Acetaminophen — also known as paracetamol — is a widely available over-the-counter (OTC) painkiller, used by 65–70 percent of pregnant women in the United States.But it is also a component of many other drugs, such as those used to treat symptoms of the common cold or flu, allergies, and sleep problems.Research into the drug's safety during pregnancy is ongoing, with little in the way of definitive conclusions.The FDA point out that "severe and persistent pain that is not effectively treated during pregnancy can result in depression, anxiety, and high blood pressure in the mother." "However, it is important to carefully weigh the benefits and risks of using prescription and OTC pain medicines during pregnancy," the statement continues.As an expectant mother myself, I've been keeping a close eye on any studies into the drug's effect.Evidence of a link between attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and the use of acetaminophen during pregnancy has been steadily mounting over the past few years.
Use of the drug for 29 days or longer doubled the risk of having a child with ADHD, regardless of whether the reason for taking the OTC drug was fever, infection, or pain.These results are in line with a study we covered in 2016 that showed that acetaminophen use was linked to behavioral problems.The team — from the University of Bristol and Cardiff University, both in the United Kingdom — found that when mothers took acetaminophen at 18 weeks of pregnancy, their children were more likely to have conduct problems and symptoms of hyperactivity.When the drug was used later on in pregnancy — at 32 weeks — these same traits were observed, but the risk of emotional symptoms and total behavioral difficulties was also higher.New research published in the past week further incriminates acetaminophen, but this time, the effects are on fertility and language development.A few years ago, we reported on a study that showed a potential link between acetaminophen use and fertility problems in male offspring in a mouse model.The research team — from the University of Edinburgh in the U. — showed that three daily doses of acetaminophen over 7 days caused the levels of testosterone in male mouse babies to drop by nearly half.Last week, a review of studies looking at the effects of acetaminophen use and fertility in female offspring concluded that the last weeks of the first trimester may be a critical time window.Data obtained from rodent studies indicate that acetaminophen may disrupt normal development of the female reproductive organs, causing symptoms similar to premature ovarian insufficiency syndrome in humans.Data from three independent studies, cited in the review, revealed that when rodents received acetaminophen, their offspring produced fewer eggs. — an assistant professor at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark — says, "[A]lthough this may not be a severe impairment to fertility, it is still of real concern since data from three different labs all independently found that paracetamol may disrupt female reproductive development in this way, which indicates further investigation is needed to establish how this affects human fertility." Prof. [...] by combining epidemiological data from human studies with more experimental research on models, such as rodents, it may be possible to firmly establish this link and determine how it happens, so that pregnant women in pain can be successfully treated, without risk to their unborn children." Prof. — who is a professor of environmental and public health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, NY — and team studied early language development in children whose mothers took acetaminophen during the very early stages of pregnancy. Swan used data from the Swedish Environmental Longitudinal, Mother and Child, Asthma and Allergy study.What is more, in one of the studies, this was passed on to the next generation, even if no more exposure to acetaminophen took place. David Møbjerg Kristensen A new study — published just yesterday — adds another dimension to the potential hazards that acetaminophen may cause. This included self-reported data on acetaminophen use in early pregnancy — meaning between the point of conception and enrolment in the study, which typically occurred at 8–13 weeks of pregnancy.