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Acetaminophen use during pregnancy raises ADHD risk by 40%

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A long-term study of 64,000 Danish mothers revealed a link between prenatal acetaminophen use and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.

The research, which was published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics, revealed that children whose mothers took acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol, Excedrin and Panadol) were 40% more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. Acetaminophen is an over-the-counter painkiller used to treat headaches and fever.

The results indicated that the risk of children developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder rose to 63% when the moms took acetaminophen during the last two trimesters of their pregnancies. The study tracked 64,000 Danish moms and their children for up to 15 years.

ADHD afflicts three to five percent of children and adults in the United States, although the figure is likely higher because many cases go undiagnosed. Symptoms include hyperactivity, impulsive behavior, and extreme difficulty paying attention and staying focused.

Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine recently revealed he suffers from ADHD. Levine made the revelation in a public service announcement for the "Own Your ADHD" campaign.

When I was first diagnosed with ADHD, it wasn't a surprise because I had difficulty in high school focusing. I think now people notice my ADHD as an adult on a daily basis. When I can't pay attention, I really can't pay attention."

Adam isn't the only celebrity who has gone public with his ADHD struggle. Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps, Justin Theroux (Jennifer Aniston's fiance), and actor Channing Tatum all battle ADHD.

Tatum, who was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia as a child, took prescription drugs as a child to cope with his learning disabilities.

He experienced severe depression as he built up a tolerance for his ADHD medication and the drugs became progressively less effective. As a result of his harrowing experiences, Channing vowed never to medicate his daughter.

For a time, it would work well, then it worked less and my pain was more. I would go through wild bouts of depression, horrible comedowns. I understand why kids kill themselves. I absolutely do. You feel terrible. You feel soul-less. I’d never do it to my child.”

The exact cause of ADHD is unknown, although genetic factors and a diet high in sugar and processed foods play a role. Neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain, said a low-carb, high-fat ketogenic diet can prevent and even reverse ADHD.

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