Women who take paracetamol during pregnancy are more likely to give birth to children with autism or ADHD, according to a major international study.
Health data from more than 70,000 children in six European countries, including the United Kingdom, was analyzed by a team from the University of Barcelona.
Fifty-six percent of mothers who have had children with autism or ADHD took paracetamol during their pregnancy, the researchers found.
Paracetamol is the most common medication taken by pregnant women for pain relief, with around 65% reporting using it during pregnancy.
This study did not explore the exact cause, but previous studies have shown that the drug can enter the baby’s body and release toxins that have been linked to poorer cognitive performance and behavioral problems in children. .
The researchers say that expectant mothers should not stop taking the drug if they are in pain, but that it should only be used “when necessary” to minimize the risks.
Study co-author Professor Jordi Sunyer told MailOnline: “Paracetamol is the safest anti-inflammatory drug for prenatal life. But even paracetamol has shown side effects. if necessary.
Women who take paracetamol during pregnancy are more likely to give birth to children with autism or ADHD, large international study finds
WHAT IS ADHD?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral disorder defined by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.
It affects about five percent of children in the United States. Some 3.6 percent of boys and 0.85 percent of girls suffer in the UK.
Symptoms usually appear at an early age and become more noticeable as the child grows older. These can also include:
- Constant agitation
- Poor concentration
- Excessive movement or talking
- Act without thinking
- Little or no danger
- Careless errors
- Difficulty organizing tasks
- Inability to listen to or carry out instructions
Source: NHS Choice
This new study found that children whose mothers took pain relief were 19% more likely to be autistic and 21% more likely to develop ADHD symptoms.
The study, which also included data from Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece and Spain, corroborates the findings of previous research.
Previous studies have shown that paracetamol can cross the placental barrier and can remain in the circulation of an infant for a long time.
Other studies have found that staying in the circulation of the infant is linked to poorer cognitive performance and behavioral problems when they are older.
In adults with normal liver function, about five percent of paracetamol is converted into a highly toxic metabolite which, in extreme cases, could damage the liver.
But due to the fetus’ limited ability to process the toxin, it stays on longer, leading to increased in utero exposure.
Dr Sílvia Alemany, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Barcelona, said: “We have also found that prenatal exposure to paracetamol affects boys and girls alike, as we have seen virtually no difference. “
Dr Sunyer said that given all the evidence linking paracetamol to neurological disorders, the drug should not be stopped during pregnancy, but should only be given “when necessary”.
At some point in pregnancy, an estimated 46 to 56% of pregnant women in developed countries use paracetamol, which is considered the safest pain reliever for pregnant women and children.
However, a growing body of evidence has linked prenatal exposure to paracetamol to poorer cognitive performance, more behavior problems, and symptoms of ASC and ADHD.
These earlier studies have been criticized for not including people from a sufficiently wide range of backgrounds and places.
That’s why the new study included detailed information from several longitudinal studies of pregnant women across Europe.
Health data from more than 70,000 children in six European countries, including the United Kingdom, was analyzed by a team from the University of Barcelona
“The sample is large,” said Alemany, adding that “we also used the same criteria for all cohorts, thus reducing the heterogeneity of criteria that has hampered previous studies.”
A 2007 study found that 84 percent of children had received paracetamol by the age of six months.
The study also looked at paracetamol use in childhood and found no increased risk of symptoms of autism and ADHD.
Nonetheless, the research team concluded that more studies are needed.
The study was published in the European Journal of Epidemiology.
SIGNS AND SYMPTMS OF AUTISM
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with autism have problems with social, emotional, and communication skills that typically develop before the age of three and last a person’s life.
Specific signs of autism include:
- Reactions to smell, taste, appearance, touch or sound are unusual
- Difficulty adjusting to changes in routine
- Unable to repeat or echo what is said to them
- Difficulty expressing desires using words or movements
- Unable to discuss own feelings or those of others
- Difficulty with acts of affection such as cuddling
- Prefer to be alone and avoid eye contact
- Difficulty relating to others
- Unable to point at objects or look at objects when others are pointing them