Taking paracetamol while pregnant is possibly linked to autism and hyperactivity in children, a study suggests.
Especially mentioned were boys whose mothers used the common pain killer while expecting are more likely to be on the autistic spectrum. And it was associated with higher rates of ADHD in both sexes.
Spanish researchers at Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL) in Spain asked 2,644 mothers how often they took the drug.
88 per cent were evaluated when the child was one year old, and 79.9 per cent were evaluated when they were five years old.
Mothers were asked about their use of paracetamol during pregnancy and the frequency of use was classified as never, sporadic, or persistent.
Exact doses taken could not be noted as the mothers were unable to recall them precisely.
It found 43 per cent of children evaluated at age one and 41 per cent assessed at age five were exposed to any paracetamol at some point during the first 32 weeks of pregnancy.
When their children were assessed at five, those who were persistently exposed to paracetamol performed worse in tests measuring inattention, impulsiveness and visual speed processing.
But the National Autistic Society said: “No one should draw any firm conclusions from this. Evidence suggests autism involves many factors including genetics, environment and brain development.”
The findings were published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
Asthma linked to paracetamol exposure
Paracetamol exposure has also been positively associated with asthma development.
The study conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health provides evidence that prenatal and infant paracetamol exposure have independent associations with asthma development.
The use of the drug during pregnancy increased the risk of asthma development by almost 13 per cent.
Children who were given paracetamol during infancy were 29 per cent more likely to be diagnosed with asthma by the age of three, with a similar rate at age seven.
The possibility that the association of prenatal and infant paracetamol exposures with asthma development might be partly mediated by later paracetamol exposure.
Paracetamol is the most commonly used analgesic/antipyretic among pregnant women and infants, and uncovering potential adverse effects is of public health importance.
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