Paracetamol during pregnancy increases the risk of behavioral disorders

Paracetamol during pregnancy increases the risk of behavioral disorders

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Pregnancy: Paracetamol intake influences the behavior of the offspring

Paracetamol is also generally considered safe for pregnant women. However, in recent years, scientific studies have shown that the pain reliever can lead to health problems for the offspring. A new study now suggests that taking the preparation during pregnancy can lead to behavior problems in the children.

"If you are pregnant and feel like you have to take pain relievers, acetaminophen is usually safe," says the UK and Northern Ireland's National Health Service (NHS) health website. A study by the University of Bristol has now investigated whether the drug is really so safe. According to a university announcement, the study adds evidence of the possible adverse effects of taking acetaminophen during pregnancy.

Hyperactivity and attention problems

In the study published in the specialist magazine "Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology", data from over 14,000 children between the ages of six months and eleven years were examined. Using a questionnaire and the school information from the “Children of the 90s” study, the researchers analyzed the results of the memory, IQ, temperament and behavior tests of the children and adolescents. These were compared to data showing how often their mothers took paracetamol between weeks 18 and 32 of pregnancy.

The study found a link between paracetamol use and hyperactivity and attention problems, as well as other behavioral disorders in young children. However, this was no longer the case when the children reached the end of primary school. Boys appeared to be more susceptible to the possible effects of the drug on behavior than girls.

Negative effects on young people

Previous studies had shown that paracetamol intake during pregnancy can have a negative impact on the offspring and can increase the risk of autism and ADHD, among other things.

“Our results complement a number of results regarding the detection of possible adverse effects of paracetamol during pregnancy, e.g. B. Problems with asthma or behavior in the offspring, ”said study leader Professor Jean Golding, who also started the“ Children of the 90s ”study at the University of Bristol.

The current study “confirms the advice that women should be careful when taking medication during pregnancy and should seek medical advice if necessary,” says the scientist.

According to a report in the British Daily Mail, Dr. James Dear of the University of Edinburgh on the study results: “In my opinion, women should only take acetaminophen during pregnancy if this is clearly necessary. The lowest dose should be taken for the shortest amount of time. "

No causal relationship shown

However, according to the newspaper report, scientists also added that there is evidence of maternal infection and inflammation that can adversely affect the fetal brain. This means that the reason for taking paracetamol - and not the drug itself - may be the cause of behavioral problems.

"There is a possibility that some women are the cause of acetaminophen and not the drug itself that has affected the child's brain," said Andrew Whitelaw, professor of newborn medicine at Bristol University.

Study director Professor Jean Golding concluded: “It is important that our results be checked in other studies - we were not able to show a causal connection, but a connection between two results. It would now also make sense to assess whether older children and adults whose mothers have taken acetaminophen are free from difficult behavioral problems. ”(Ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • University of Bristol: Childhood behavior linked to taking paracetamol during pregnancy, (access: 16.09.2019), University of Bristol
  • Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology: Associations between paracetamol (acetaminophen) intake between 18 and 32 weeks gestation and neurocognitive outcomes in the child: A longitudinal cohort study, (Access: 16.09.2019), Pediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology
  • National Health Service (NHS): Can I take paracetamol when I'm pregnant ?, (accessed: 16.09.2019), National Health Service (NHS)
  • University of Bristol: Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, (accessed: 16.09.2019), University of Bristol

Video: Paracetamol use during pregnancy may increase autism risk. Nine News Australia (September 2022).