Acetaminophen use during pregnancy may increase the risk of delivering a child with attention-deficit/ hyper-activity disorder (ADHD) or hyperkinetic disorders (HKDs), a study published in the journal Pediatrics on Feb. 24 found.
The study included more than 64,000 Danish children and mothers. Mothers were surveyed during pregnancy about their acetaminophen use. Information collected from parents on follow-up questionnaires, data on HKD diagnoses and ADHD medication prescriptions showed an increase risk of these disorders among children whose mother used acetaminophen while pregnant. Use of the pain reliever in more than one trimester appears to further increase the risk.
Acetaminophen is commonly used by pregnant women to relieve pain and reduce fevers. Previous studies have shown no increase in congenital malformations with neonatal exposure to the drug, and its use by pregnant women is generally considered safe.
Attention-deficit disorder is a common childhood disorder that makes it difficult for a child to focus on tasks and pay sustained attention. It is often accompanied by hyperactivity and impulsive behavior.
The study authors conclude further investigation is necessary given the prevalence of acetaminophen use.