Long-term use of acetaminophen — the active ingredient in Tylenol — during pregnancy may have negative effects on child development.
The new study by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health suggests expectant mothers limit their use of acetaminophen to reduce the potential neurodevelopmental effects of prenatal exposure to the widely used painkiller.
"The results strengthen our concern that long-term use of [acetaminophen] during pregnancy may have an adverse effect on child development, but that occasional use for short periods is probably not harmful to the fetus," said Hedvig Nordeng, a professor at the University of Oslo and a researcher at the Norwegian Institute.
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"Importantly, we cannot assume that there is a causal relationship between maternal use of [acetominphone] during pregnancy and adverse effects in children from an epidemiological study. Since this is the only study to show this, there is a need for further research to confirm or refute these results," Nordeng added. "The findings support the advice of medical authorities; the first choice for pain is paracetamol, but one should be restrictive with all medicine use in pregnancy."
The findings are based on an analysis of the motor-skills development, behavior, and temperament of nearly 3,000 children whose mothers took acetaminophen during pregnancy.
The findings, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, found children who had been exposed to acetominophen for more than 28 days of pregnancy had poorer motor and communication skills and more behavioral problems than those who weren't exposed.
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