Is Acetaminophen Really Safe During Pregnancy?

By | November 24, 2013

Counter-intuitively, over-the-counter medication is commonly taken by pregnant women. In this context, acetaminophen (APAP, e.g. Paracetamol, Tylenol) is generally recommended by physicians to treat fever and pain during pregnancy. Thus, acetaminophen ranks at the top of the list of medications taken prenatally. Insights on an increased risk for pregnancy complications such as miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth or fetal malformations upon acetaminophen exposure are rather ambiguous. However, emerging evidence arising from human trials clearly reveals a significant correlation between acetaminophen use during pregnancy and an increased risk for the development of asthma in children later in life. Acetaminophen ranks at the top of medication taken by pregnant women. The frequency of pregnant women taking APAP at least once during pregnancy is as high as 20–30%. Further, the use of APAP is often recommended by doctors during all stages of pregnancy in order to treat pain or fever. Therefore, acetaminophen is generally perceived as a ‘safe’ medication during pregnancy. Despite this, studies of potential adverse effects on neurodevelopmental outcomes in children prenatally exposed to acetaminophen are lacking. A recent study using a large sample size investigated prenatal acetaminophen exposure and child neurodevelopment using a sibling-controlled cohort study. Results showed that children exposed to prenatal acetaminophen (paracetamol) for more than 28 days had poorer gross motor development, adverse psychomotor, behavioural and temperamental outcomes at 3 years of age, after adjusting for familial and genetic confounding. Children exposed prenatally to shorter-term use of paracetamol (1–27 days) also had poorer gross motor outcomes but the effects were smaller than with 28 or more days use.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *