Study Linked Tylenol to Developmental Problems

Acetaminophen overuse during pregnancy could influence childs development

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, is the most popular over-the-counter medication in America. At least one recent study has suggested that pregnant mothers may want to consider an alternative.

Researchers in Norway found that taking Tylenol more than 28 times during pregnancy may lead to a child developing more slowly during the first three years of life.

The same study found no developmental impact from the use of ibuprofen during pregnancy.

"Talk to your doctor before taking any medication during pregnancy."

This study was led by Ragnhild Eek Brandlistuen, PhD, from the School of Pharmacy at the University of Oslo in Norway.

Dr. Brandilstuen and colleagues surveyed the mothers of 48,631 Norwegian children at 17 and 30 weeks of pregnancy and again six months after giving birth. The mothers later filled out a follow-up questionnaire about their child’s development when the child turned three years of age.

These researchers focused on mothers who used Tylenol for 28 or more days during their pregnancy.

Many women took acetaminophen during pregnancy, but only 4 percent took it long term.

This study, conducted between 1998 and 2008, sought to determine the possible effect of Tylenol ingested during pregnancy on the child’s later development. While past studies on this medication found no link to premature birth and miscarriage, there have been no follow-up studies.

This study found that children had a 70 percent greater chance of having motor and behavioral symptoms such as difficulty mastering motor skills and starting to walk late if the mother used Tylenol 28 or more times during the pregnancy.

These researchers also looked into the use of ibuprofen and found no ties to developmental issues.

The authors stated "More studies consistently showing effects of paracetamol exposure are needed to determine the likelihood  of a cause effect."

This is the first study of its kind, and additional research is required to verify or refute the results.

This study was published October 24 in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

This study was supported by a grant from the Norwegian Research Council. The Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study is supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Education and Research, and National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the Norwegian Research Council/FUGE (The National Programme for Research in Functional Genomics in Norway).

Review Date: 
November 25, 2013
Last Updated:
November 26, 2013