Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Paracetamol During Pregnancy Leads To Autism And ADHD, Not Proven

According to the mail online reports, pregnant women who take Paracetamol have children with autism and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). However, a Spanish study has found that there is no direct link or strong evidence to either condition.
Medical researchers analysed use of Paracetamol in nearly 2,000 pregnant women and performed several behavioural and developmental investigations on the children aged between one and five. They found the link between Paracetamol use in pregnancy and hyperactivity symptoms or autism in children aged five. However, there was no relation with complete diagnostic criteria for ADHD or autism in all children.

The causes of both the health issues are poorly understood, as there could be other factors such as genetic predisposition and environmental influences, which were not taken into consideration during the study. For instance, the study did not consider whether the women smoked during pregnancy. They also failed to assess the child’s exposure to passive smoking. Smoking during pregnancy is linked with both autism and ADHD in children.

Experts opine that Paracetamol can be used occasionally during pregnancy, but after consulting a medical professional. However, Paracetamol safety during pregnancy is still a debatable topic. Overdose with this painkiller during pregnancy increases the risk of health issues in new-born.

The Study

Medical researchers from various healthcare institutions in Spain conducted the study. They recruited around 2,644 expectant mothers from different regions. Pregnant women were questioned at 12 and 32 weeks of gestation. They specifically asked about the medicines used one month before or during pregnancy. If they said yes, they asked about the medicine, dosage, duration, frequency of use, etc.  In addition, nearly 80% of children (aged one to five years) were assessed.

The basic results found that around 42% children had been exposed to this painkiller during pregnancy. The expectants mother used this drug to get rid of pain. Researchers explain that Paracetamol in pregnancy is associated with high risk of autism in boys and ADHD in both genders. However, the study does not prove that Paracetamol is the sole reason behind these findings. For instance, this painkiller was not linked with full diagnostic criteria of ADHD.

Researchers did not consider other factors in this study, such as genetic influence, environmental influence, smoking, alcohol consumption and overall well-being. In addition, no relation was found with intellectual and developmental outcomes in children.

All in all, the link can help in further investigation, but fails to prove the relation between Paracetamol use during pregnancy and risk of autism or ADHD.

If a pregnant woman experiences chronic pain and feel the need for painkillers, she should speak to her GP for alternative options.

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