Study: Using paracetamol while pregnant can cause behavior issues in kids


paracetamol

Paracetamol is one of the most widely used medicines in the world. Also known as acetaminophen, paracetamol is an over-the-counter analgesic drug used to address body pains and aches.

Although a generally harmless drug when taken in moderation, for pregnant women and their unborn child, it poses certain risks.

According to a new study based on the data collected from 7,800 mothers, researchers found that more than half of them took acetaminophen at some point during pregnancy. 5% of their children had behavior problems by age seven.

But don’t throw away your stock of paracetamol at home just yet. The study isn’t recommending that pregnant woman to stop taking the drug, says lead study author Evie Stergiakouli of the University of Bristol in the U.K.

“It is still appropriate to use acetaminophen during pregnancy because there is a risk of not treating fever or pain during pregnancy,” she said as per Deccan Chronicle. “Other pain medications are not considered safe to use during pregnancy.”

Meanwhile, according to Dr. Hal Lawrence, executive vice president and chief executive of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), there isn’t necessarily a connection between acetaminophen and developmental issues in children.

"Behavioural disorders are multifactorial and very difficult to associate with a singular cause.

“The brain does not stop developing until at least 15 months of age, which leaves room for children to be exposed to a number of factors that could potentially lead to behavioural issues.”

Admittedly, the authors of the study also noted that they lack intensive data pertaining to the dosage or duration of acetaminophen use in pregnant women, and that their study was based on their focus group's memory

Echoing Dr. Lawrence’s statement, Dr. Aisling Murphy, a researcher in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of California, Los Angeles, says there’s no conclusive proof that the drug does cause neurological disorders.

“Having said that, generally, our advice would be to avoid any unnecessary exposure to medications, including acetaminophen during pregnancy,” said Dr. Murphy.

“If treatment with acetaminophen is needed for pain control then taking the minimum effective dose and avoiding multiple prolonged exposures is the prudent thing to do,” the doctor added. “If the pain is more severe then talking to your doctor is the next best step.”
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