Pregnant women who take the painkiller drug acetaminophen, known more popularly by the brand name Tylenol, are more likely than pregnant women not taking the popular pharmaceutical to bear children with severe attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), claims a new study out of Denmark recently published in JAMA Pediatrics.
For the first time since acetaminophen was granted approval back in the 1950s, researchers have linked the drug, which is commonly used during pregnancy for pain management and fever reduction, to causing a class of behavioral disorders to which young people are increasingly succumbing. Also known as paracetamol, acetaminophen was recently found to obstruct normal hormone function in those that use it, which for unborn babies can mean improper brain development.
The preliminary study included data on more than 64,000 Danish children born between 1996 and 2002, the mothers of whom reportedly called in twice during their pregnancies and once six months after giving birth to disclose painkiller use. The team, from the University of Aarhus, then compiled this data and compared it to rates of hyperkinetic disorder, a severe form of ADHD, among all the children.
They found that children whose mothers took acetaminophen during pregnancy were 13 percent more likely than other children to demonstrate ADHD-like behavioral problems, including hyperactivity and poor behavior, and 37 percent more likely to be diagnosed with hyperkinetic disorder, or “high end” ADHD. Duly, acetaminophen babies were found to be nearly 30 percent more likely to be prescribed ADHD medications than non-drugged babies.
“We really should start looking at non-pharmaceutical ways to deal with pain,” stated Jeff Chapa, director of maternal fetal medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, to USA Today regarding the findings. Chapa, who was not involved with the study, is concerned that some pregnant women will now turn to other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) that likewise can lead to developmental disorders.
Just because it’s available over the counter doesn’t mean it’s safe
A common presumption with drugs like acetaminophen and ibuprofen is that, because they are available over the counter without a prescription, they must be relatively safe. But as this study and numerous others in recent years show, some of the most pervasive and widely-available medicines on the market today are among the most damaging, with acetaminophen ranking high on that list.
Acetaminophen has also been linked to causing autism in so-called “genetically susceptible” children. A study conducted by Dr. William Shaw, Ph.D., that was published in the Journal of Restorative Medicine last fall found that the marked increase in acetaminophen use among pregnant women in recent years is directly associated with a corresponding rise in autism, asthma, ADHD and related behavioral disorders in children.
“Toxicity of acetaminophen may cause autism by overloading the defective sulfation pathway catalyzed by phenolsulfotransferase, which is deficient in autism, leading to overproduction of the toxic metabolite N-acetylp- benzoquinone imine (NAPQI),” explains Dr. Shaw in his study, noting that abundant epidemiological evidence supports this position. “The marked increases in the incidences of autism, asthma, and attention deficit disorder in the United States coincide with the replacement of aspirin by acetaminophen in the 1980s.”
For the full text of Dr. Shaw’s study, visit:
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