A common over-the-counter pain reliever called acetaminophen (paracetamol) is the subject of a new consensus statement from researchers who are concerned about its potential risk when taken during pregnancy. The editorial summarizes the existing data on the use of acetaminophen during pregnancy and its potential to cause fetal development problems.
Acetaminophen is considered an acceptable way to treat milder pain during pregnancy, assuming it’s taken as directed or as directed by a doctor. However, a growing number of studies have questioned the painkiller’s safety for the developing fetus, raising concerns about its potential contribution to ADHD and other neurological problems.
the new statement summarizing the potential risks of acetaminophen when taken during pregnancy also include evidence indicating possible urogenital and reproductive harm. This is of particular concern because acetaminophen is an ingredient in hundreds of medications, many of which are available over-the-counter to treat things like fever and body aches.
The professionals explain in their press release:
As scientists, medical experts and public health professionals, we are concerned about the increasing rates of neurological, urogenital and reproductive disorders. We are seeing a worrying increase in the number of children with cognitive, learning and/or behavioral problems […] The data support the contribution of environmental exposure during fetal life, including exposure to pharmaceuticals, to these increases in rates of neurological, urogenital, and reproductive disorders.
Although the consensus statement does not call on pregnant women to avoid acetaminophen altogether, it does state, “We believe the potential for harm from continued inaction exceeds the harm that could result from precautionary action.”
Among other things, experts recommend that pregnant women avoid using acetaminophen unless it is “medically indicated” and that they first consult their pharmacist or doctor before using the drug long term. , among others. Additionally, experts suggest the risk should be minimized by taking the lowest effective dose of acetaminophen and using it only for “the shortest amount of time possible.”