May 20, 2022

Pain reliever acetaminophen linked to higher risk of autism, ADHD: study

Spanish researchers have discovered data suggesting a potential link between prenatal exposure to acetaminophen, a common pain reliever drug, and an increased risk of autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to the results of a study published Friday.

The study, published in the European Journal of Epidemiology, based its findings on an analysis of 73,881 mother-child pairs in Europe.

Children who were exposed prenatally to paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen, were 19% more likely to have developed autism spectrum disorders (AUC) and 21% more likely to have developed ADHD than unexposed children.

“These results replicate previous work and support the provision of clear information to pregnant women and their partners about the potential long-term risks of acetaminophen use,” said researchers from the University of Barcelona.

The researchers noted that the study’s results should be “interpreted with caution” and not taken as definitive evidence of a link. The study found “no association” between postnatal exposure to acetaminophen and symptoms of AUC, according to a press release from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health.


It is estimated that 46% to 56% of pregnant women take acetaminophen at some point during their pregnancy, according to the institute.

“Given all of the evidence on acetaminophen use and neurodevelopment, we agree with previous recommendations that although acetaminophen should not be removed in pregnant women or children, it should only be used when necessary, ”the researchers added.