Pregnant women taking acetaminophen may be linked to ADHD - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Pregnant women taking acetaminophen may be linked to ADHD in children

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A new study links acetaminophen use in pregnant women to ADHD risks. (Source: MGN Online) A new study links acetaminophen use in pregnant women to ADHD risks. (Source: MGN Online)

(CNN) – Results have just been released from a new study of one of the most widely-used pain medications.

It's supposed to be the safe option – acetaminophen, most widely known as Tylenol, is routinely prescribed by doctors for pregnant women in pain.

But a new study calls that this long-standing practice into question, finding that women using the common pain reliever during pregnancy have children more likely to show signs of ADHD.

The biggest increase was among women using acetaminophen the most often and late in pregnancy. Use in the second and third trimester uses meant a 44 percent higher chance of hyperactivity.

Any medication in pregnancy is something to avoid if you can.

Dr. Beate Riz, a professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health says, "We have to be extremely careful what we expose a fetus to."

Ritz says acetaminophen may cause damage by disrupting hormones critical to fetal brain development, and alternatives to medication, like massages and baths may be a better option for mild pain relief.

"You certainly should not take a pain medication just because you have a slight headache," Ritz said.

In a statement, Tylenol maker Johnson & Johnson told CNN, "Tylenol has one of the most favorable safety profiles among over-the-counter pain relievers…if pregnant or breastfeeding, the consumer should ask a health professional before use.

Experts say more research is needed to determine whether acetaminophen really does contribute to ADHD, and in the meantime, are warning pregnant women not to replace acetaminophen with other pain medications.

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