Taking acetaminophen during pregnancy delays speech development in baby girls
08/19/2018 // Michelle Simmons // Views

A new study found that taking the painkiller acetaminophen during pregnancy slows down the speech development of baby girls by up to six times. Acetaminophen, also known as paracetamol, is the active ingredient in hundreds of over-the-counter and prescription medicines for pain relief and fever.

To study the effect of the pain reliever on the offspring of its pregnant users, a team of researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York collected the data of 754 pregnant women who were enrolled in the Swedish Environmental Longitudinal, Mother and Child, Asthma and Allergy study (SELMA) during their eighth to 13th weeks of pregnancy. The participants were asked to report the amount of acetaminophen tablets they had taken since they got pregnant until their enrollment in the study. Then, the researchers tested the acetaminophen concentration in their urine. In addition, the frequency of language delay, defined as the use of less than 50 words, was evaluated through a nurse's assessment and a follow-up survey accomplished by the children's mothers when the children were 30 months old.

The results of the study revealed that 59 percent of the participants took acetaminophen in early pregnancy. Moreover, language delay was observed in 10 percent of all the children in the study. Yet, girls who were born to mothers who took acetaminophen more than six times during pregnancy were almost six times more at risk of speech delay compared to those whose mothers did not take acetaminophen.

These results are in line with previous research that suggested lower intelligence quotient (IQ) and increased communication problems in children born to mothers who used acetaminophen during pregnancy. Furthermore, results showed that a high acetaminophen in urine concentration was linked to the increase of speech delay in girls, but not in boys.


"Given the prevalence of prenatal acetaminophen use and the importance of language development, our findings, if replicated, suggest that pregnant women should limit their use of this analgesic during pregnancy," said Shanna Swan, professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and senior author of the study.

The findings of the study were published in the journal European Psychiatry.

Mothers taking paracetamol are more likely to give birth to children with hyperactivity disorders

The use of paracetamol during pregnancy not only impedes the child's speech development, but also increases the risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) development in the child. A study in 2014 found that taking paracetamol during pregnancy increased a child's risk of hyperactivity disorders by up to 30 percent.

In the study, the international team of researchers analyzed over 64,000 children and mothers in Denmark between 1996 and 2002. The parents also completed a survey about their children's behavioral problems. (Related: Mothers Taking Acetaminophen Are More Likely to Give Birth to Boys With Autism, New Study Finds.)

Among the mothers, more than half of them reported using paracetamol while pregnant. Paracetamol use was linked to a 37 percent increased risk of hyperkinetic disorders, a severe form of ADHD. Moreover, it was revealed that the children of pain reliever users were 29 percent more likely to take drugs to manage ADHD, and 13 percent more at risk to develop ADHD-like symptoms at the age of seven.

Furthermore, it was found that the risk was greater in mothers who took pain relievers for six months or more while pregnant. The findings of the study indicated that pain reliever usage during pregnancy could be associated with ADHD.

Read more stories on harmful medicines like acetaminophen at DangerousMedicine.news.

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