The internet is both a blessing and a curse when you're pregnant, because you can Google anything and everything at any hour of the day to get answers, but there is so much conflicting information out there that you end up driving yourself crazy with worry. The best thing to do is ask your doctor. But the thing is that even information your doctor gives you changes according to new studies being published all of the time.
When I was pregnant, my OB told me what I could and couldn't take for cramps and headaches—acetaminophen was ok, but ibuprofen and naproxen weren't. Well, now according to a long-term study by UCLA, in collaboration with the University of Aarhus in Denmark, raises major concerns about the link between acetaminophen during pregnancy and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, in children.
Acetaminophen is found in over-the-counter products, including Tylenol and Excedrin, which are usually used to help with headaches and sore muscles—two things pregnant women get a lot! But popping these pills, according to a report in JAMA Pediatrics, is associated with higher risk in children for ADHD.
Children whose mothers took acetaminophen were: -13% more likely to show ADHD-like behaviors, such as hyperactivity and conduct problems.
-37% more likely to be diagnosed with hyperkinetic disorder, which is the equivalent of "high end" ADHD, Ritz says.
-29% more likely to get ADHD medications.
New research by the Centers for Disease Control and prevention reports that ADHD affects 6.4 million children between the ages of 4 and 17—that's 11 percent of American children—which is 2 million more children affected than in 2007. Could moms-to-be taking acetaminophen unknowingly be contributing to those numbers? Sadly, probably according to the UCLA study.
But as reported in USA Today, experts say the study does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship and more study is needed. Jeff Chapa, director of maternal fetal medicine at Cleveland Clinic, says pregnant women with a fever should still take acetaminophen to reduce it, because fevers might affect fetal development. But there's good reason to be conservative about using it for aches and pains when a warm bath, a massage or some stretching might provide relief, he says. Better safe than sorry, so speak to your doctor to find out healthy alternatives to taking acetaminophen for headaches and pains.
TELL US: Will you stop taking acetaminophen while pregnant? Did you take it while you were pregnant and now have a child diagnosed with ADHD? Share your stories below.
Image of pregnant woman taking pills courtesy of Shutterstock.