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Use of paracetamol during pregnancy may cause autism, ADHD in children

Use of paracetamol during pregnancy may cause autism, ADHD in children

26 July | 0 Comments | By Arizona Mental Health Helpline Team

Pregnant women should take paracetamol only when necessary and for the shortest possible time, according to doctors, as this can lead to complications in both the mother and the unborn child. A recent study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in June 2016, found that exposure to paracetamol during pregnancy can result in autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.

The authors of the study, titled “Acetaminophen use in pregnancy and neurodevelopment: attention function and autism spectrum symptoms,” revealed an association between paracetamol use during pregnancy and symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in boys and signs of ADHD in children of both the genders.

The authors observed that mothers who used paracetamol during the gestation phase had children with 30 percent higher risk of functions related to improper attention. They also observed two medical signs of ASD in boys born to such mothers.

The scientists observed 2,644 mother-children pairs, during the pregnancy phase. Of the total mother-child respondents, 88 percent were examined when the child had turned a year old, while the details of 79.9 percent were taken into consideration when their children attained the age of five. The scientists inquired about the extent to which they had used paracetamol during the gestation phase.

The level of use was classified as never, occasional or continual, though exact information on the number of doses could not be gathered due to the mothers’ inability to recall the frequency at which they had taken paracetamol. Based on the details provided by the mothers, 43 percent of the one-year-old children and 41 percent of five-year-old children were found to be exposed to any level of paracetamol during some phase of the first seven months of pregnancy.

An evaluation of the  children at five years, who were exposed to paracetamol, revealed that they exhibited weaker performance in the computerized test meant to measure inattention, impulsive behavior and visual speed processing.

Symptoms of ASD heightened in boys

The symptoms of ASD were heightened in boys with prolonged exposure to paracetamol. The study indicated the possibility of children, exposed to paracetamol, manifesting symptoms of various developmental disorders, but it does not stress on getting children diagnosed for disorders of the nervous system.

The observations of the study only lend a strong warning for pregnant women against the use of paracetamol as its effect in relieving pain by acting on cannabinoid receptors in the brain may bring about transformation in the manner neurons mature and connect with each other in the brain. And the analgesic effects of paracetamol can adversely impact advancements in the immune system or prove harmful to fetuses.

Explaining the reason behind more boys exhibiting symptoms of ASD, lead author of the study Claudia Avella-Garcia, a researcher at CREAL, an ISGlobal allied center in Barcelona, said, “The male brain may be more vulnerable to harmful influences during early life. Our differing gender results suggest that androgenic endocrine disruption, to which male brains could be more sensitive, may explain the association.”

Road to recovery

The findings of the study stress that there is a possibility of children to suffer from ASD if their mothers use paracetamol during pregnancy. Use of paracetamol without medical guidance could lead to lifelong debilitating autistic disorder. The scientists stressed the need for further research to ensure complete information before advising paracetamol to expectant women.

The prolonged and disabling condition of autism affects nearly one in 68 American children, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Though the symptoms of autism are manifested in both boys and girls, boys are 4.5 times more likely to be affected by the disorder.

If your child is suffering from ASD, or any kind of mental illness, it is imperative that you seek help from the Arizona Mental Health Helpline to know about one of the best mental health treatment centers in Arizona. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-606-7791 or chat online for more information on mental health disorder treatment centers in Arizona.


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