Science 2 min read

Childhood Behavior Linked to Taking Paracetamol During Pregnancy

New study explored the link between a mother's paracetamol in-take during pregnancy and the offspring's hyperactivity and attention problems.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

In a recent paper published in Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, researchers examined how paracetamol intake in mid-pregnancy affects the offspring’s behavior.

Paracetamol is the most commonly used medication for fever and pain in the United States and Britain. In 2019, it was the 17th most prescribed medication in the United States, with more than 29 million prescriptions.

Since the medication is one of the most effective and safest in the health care system, it’s popularity is not surprising.

But how safe is paracetamol?

That was the question that the researchers at the University of Bristol wanted to answer. So, they conducted a study using questionnaire and school information from 14,000 children from the ’90s.

The Link Between Paracetamol Intake During Pregnancy and Attention Problems in Offsprings

Forty-three percent of the mothers said they had taken paracetamol “sometimes” or more often in the previous three months. So, the researchers examined the result of their’s offspring’s test.

These include memory, temperament, behavior measures, IQ, and pre-school development tests.

The findings suggest that there’s a link between paracetamol intake during pregnancy and the offspring’s hyperactivity and attention problems. However, as the children grow older to age 9 or 10, this is no longer the case.

According to the researchers, male offsprings appeared to be more susceptible to the possible behavioral effects of the drugs than their female counterpart.

Jean Golding OBE, who was also the founder of the University of Bristol’s Children of the 90s research, led this new study.

In a statement to the press, Golding said:

“Our findings add to a series of results concerning evidence of the possible adverse effects of taking paracetamol during pregnancy, such as issues with asthma or behaviour in the offspring. It reinforces the advice that women should be cautious when medicating during pregnancy and to seek medical advice where necessary.”

With that said, the researcher admitted that the study does not establish a causal link. In other words, they didn’t know how or why paracetamol has an adverse effect during pregnancy.

As such, Golding emphasizes the need for further studies to test the current findings.

It would also be useful now to assess whether older children and adults are free of difficult behavioral problems if their mother had taken paracetamol,” she said.

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Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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