A new study finds a higher risk of Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)-like behaviors in kids. Mothers took acetaminophen for prolonged periods during pregnancy.
The research, conducted by UCLA and The University of Aarhus in Denmark, found the disease in kids. The kids who were at a 13-37% higher risk for a hospital diagnosis of either hyperkinetic disorder. Being treated with ADHD medications or having ADHD-like behaviors by age seven. The risk at least doubles in kids whose mothers used the pain reliever for 20 or more weeks during the gestation period.
ADHD as a neurobehavioral disorder
ADHD is one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders worldwide and impacts millions of children. Symptoms include a short attention span, hyperactivity, and compulsive behavior. Hyperkinetic disorder is a form of ADHD.
“The causes of ADHD and hyperkinetic disorder are not well understood. But both environmental and genetic factors clearly contribute,” said study co-author and UCLA professor Dr. Beate Ritz.
Co-author Dr. Jørn Olsen said, “That gave us the motivation to search for environmental causes that are avoidable.”
Researchers said the pain reliever, found in common over-the-counter medications, is undoubtedly safe if used correctly for most people to relieve headaches and muscle pain. But Dr. Ritz adds, “Research data suggest that acetaminophen is a hormone disruptor and abnormal hormonal exposures in pregnancy may influence fetal brain development.”
The research, published in the latest JAMA Pediatrics, looked at more than 60,000 children and mothers who registered for a Danish birth database over a six year period. The research consisted of phone surveys during and after childbirth and then again when the kids were seven. Factors such as maternal infection and mental health were taken into account.
More than half of the mothers surveyed reported using acetaminophen during pregnancy.
“We need further research to verify these findings, but if these results reflect causal associations, then acetaminophen should no longer be considered a ‘safe’ drug for use in pregnancy,” Dr. Olsen said.
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