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Acetaminophen in Pregnancy May Affect Childhood Behavior

MONDAY, Sept. 16, 2019 -- Acetaminophen use in mid-to-late pregnancy may have an adverse effect on early childhood neurocognitive outcome, according to a study published online Sept. 15 in Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology.

Jean Golding, Ph.D., from Bristol Medical School at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined the correlation between acetaminophen intake at 18 to 32 weeks of gestation and childhood behavioral and cognitive outcomes in a large population. Data were obtained from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children at 32 weeks of gestation.

The researchers identified 15 variables that were independently associated with taking acetaminophen; these variables were used as potential confounders. Fifty-six outcomes of the 135 neurocognitive variables considered were identified for adjusted analyses. Twelve variables were identified that showed significant independent associations with acetaminophen use at P < 0.05; four of these variables had an association at P < 0.0001. All 12 related to child behaviors reported by the mother at 42 and 47 months. The 12 variables were mainly features of hyperactive or attentive behavior. Few associations were seen with behavioral and neurocognitive outcomes after age 7 to 8 years as reported by the mother or teacher.

"Our findings add to a series of results concerning evidence of the possible adverse effects of taking paracetamol during pregnancy such as issues with asthma or behavior in the offspring," Golding said in a statement. "It reinforces the advice that women should be cautious when taking medication during pregnancy and to seek medical advice where necessary."

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Posted: September 2019

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