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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  • Great to hear its not all bad news about it


  • I was told by my Doctor that Paracetamol was safe to take during pregnancy. Obviously you only take medicines when you very much need to.
    I honestly feel that we would be more wise to look at all the chemicals that we have in our foods now a days.


  • Putting pregnancy aside, long term use of paracetamol can cause liver damage. I personally know of a person this happened to.


  • Dont take everything you read as gospel! – the article claims that the mothers couldn’t recall how much paracetamol they had taken so really in all honesty can they even claim this to be fact? I think articles like these should not be published/circulated as they scare new mothers to be. Yes pregnancy and medicine should be a careful combination as directed by your gp/OB – designated healthcare person and then you also have to trust your instinct.

    I took pain relief when I was pregnant with both my children – I took migrane medicine with both too! – neither of my children have any issues with austism or adhd.


  • I think these studies are a bit vague. A lot more testing should be done before claims are made


  • This is just one study which suggests the possible link between the intake of paracetamol whilst pregnant and autism and hyperactivity in children and another study showing the link between paracetamol exposure & asthma….think it takes some more study to to actually make this statement.
    However I do agree that it is wise to be careful with any medication intake by children, during pregnancy and maybe always but specific for the more vulnerable groups.


  • These articles drive me nuts


  • I agree with the comments from the National Autistic Society on this issue. It’s a complex, multi faceted issue and there is only one study pertaining to autism.


  • do not believe everything that you read. 100% of those babies whose mothers took paracetamol also will die at some point (as do we all). This is VERY low level statistics and needs extensive followup.


  • I had no idea paracetamol was so dangerous during pregnancy.


  • Putting pregnancy aside for a brief moment, continous dosage of Paracetamol over a long time can cause liver damage too.


  • So many risks related to the use of paracetamol during pregnancy. I didn’t know that!!


  • I’m glad I was careful about this!


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