Children are at a higher risk of ADHD if their mums take paracetamol while pregnant, according to a new study.
The study published in JAMA Pediatrics found acetaminophen (paracetamol) use in pregnancy is associated with abnormal fetal neuro-development. Paracetamol, the active ingredient in Panadol, has long been considered a safe option for pregnant women dealing with aches and pains.
The study said children of mothers who took the drug while pregnant had children with a higher risk for hyperactivity and behavioral problems.
While the finding may seem worrying to some, it's early days and the doctors leading the research said it was still safe for women to take the drug, if needed. And doctors should not change their clinical practice until further research was done. This is not the first study of it's kind, with a 2014 New Zealand study producing similar findings.
One report from the Danish National Birth Cohort found a similar risk, as did one looking at mother-child pairs in New Zealand. While the study found links between the drug and behavioural problems, researchers said the connection was one of association, not causation.
Researchers said they did not know whether taking paracetamol caused the hyperactivity and conduct problems in children, however, the research did show women who took it in the second and third trimesters of their pregnancies had more kids with these disorders.
Head of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and lead author of the new study, Hal Lawrence said in a statement that "patients should not be frightened away from the many benefits of acetaminophen". He emphasised the lack of causation, saying that: "The brain does not stop developing until at least 15 months of age, which leaves room for children to be exposed to a number of factors that could potentially lead to behavioral issues."
The researchers studied 7796 mothers who were part of the British Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents (ALSPAC) between 1991 and 1992, also studying their children and partners. More than 50 per cent of the women who participated reported using acetaminophen at 18 weeks of pregnancy, and 42 per cent reported using it at 32 weeks. After pregnancy, 89 per cent of mothers used it. Women who tool the medication at 18 weeks of pregnancy had a greater chance of their child becoming hyperactive or developing conduct problems. At 32 weeks into pregnancy, use of the drug was linked to higher chance of the child having emotional issues, conduct problems and being hyperactive.
20 August 2016
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