A new study has warned paracetamol “should only be used when necessary”.
Babies born to mothers who take paracetamol during pregnancy are at higher risk for autism and ADHD, according to a study.
But the researchers say women don’t necessarily need to stop taking the drug to ease their pain.
Researchers in Barcelona analyzed 70,000 children in six separate studies on the subject.
Between 14 and 56% of expectant mothers said they had taken paracetamol while carrying their child.
The study found that children exposed to paracetamol before birth were 19% more likely to develop symptoms of autism.
They were 21% more likely to develop ADHD symptoms.
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Girls and boys affected alike
Lead author of the study at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), SÃlvia Alemany, said: âOur results are consistent with previous research.
“We also found that prenatal exposure to paracetamol affects boys and girls alike, because we saw virtually no difference.”
Is It Safe To Take Paracetamol During Pregnancy?
Researcher Jordi Sunyer said women should not be denied over-the-counter pain relievers during pregnancy.
But he cautioned “it should only be used when necessary.”
A growing body of evidence suggests that exposure to paracetamol in the womb can lead to decreased cognitive performance and behavioral problems.
This study has been described as the “largest” to date, including data from the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece and Spain.
But the finding is not proven, there is only one link.
Professor Andrew Shennan, professor of obstetrics at King’s College London, said this could be the reason women took paracetamol, rather than the drug itself, to blame.
He said The sun: “The analysis is not able to exclude this.
âParacetamol is an important medicine for lowering temperatures, and high temperatures can be harmful to pregnancies.
âCurrently, women should always take paracetamol when needed and seek advice from their GP or midwife if in doubt. “
He explained that if the link is true, the additional risk is actually low because autism is rare.
He said The sun: “This study suggests that in women who took paracetamol during pregnancy, the risk of autism in their child may be slightly higher.
“For example, instead of a 1 in 1,000 chance, it could be 1.2 / 1,000. Or for five cases of autism, there could be one more.”
The NHS website Says: âParacetamol has been used regularly throughout all stages of pregnancy to reduce high temperature and to relieve pain.
“There is no clear evidence that it has harmful effects on an unborn baby.”
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No ibuprofen during pregnancy
But pregnant women are advised to avoid ibuprofen, another common pain reliever.
The NHS website states: âIndeed, taking ibuprofen at this stage of pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of complications, including a heart problem in your baby and a reduced amount of amniotic fluid. “
In America, parcetamol is called “acetaminophen,” which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “appears to be the best option for treating fever during pregnancy.”
What are ADHD and Autism?
ADHD is thought to affect up to five percent of schoolchildren.
Symptoms may appear differently in girls and boys, but in general, people with the condition can keep pace in class due to a shorter attention span and a forgetful appearance.
Sometimes they can be hyperactive, causing them to fidget, talk excessively, or interrupt the conversation.
Some children overcome the disease when they reach adulthood, but 65% still have symptoms that affect their daily lives.
The NHS says ADHD tends to be familial, but there can be brain changes in people with it as well.
Meanwhile, autism spectrum disorders affect around one in 100 children in the UK.
Research suggests that autism develops from a combination of genetic and environmental influences, but no one really knows the true cause.
This story originally appeared in The sun and has been republished here with permission.