An epidemiological study with more than 70,000 children in six European areas, has linked the use of paracetamol in pregnancy with the symptoms of Attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity (ADHD) and the autism In the kids. The research has been carried out mainly by the Barcelona Institute of Global Health (ISGlobal).
In total, 73,881 children were analyzed for whom data were available on prenatal and / or postnatal paracetamol exposure. And of at least one result on symptoms of ASD or ADHD, and main covariates. Depending on the series, between 14% and 56% of the mothers reported that they had taken paracetamol while they were pregnant.
The results reveal that children who had been exposed to acetaminophen before birth were more likely to later develop symptoms of autism spectrum disorders and attention deficit disorders. Unlike those who had not been exposed to this.
Around 20% higher risk of suffering from the disease
“Our data are consistent with what previous work indicated. We also see that prenatal exposure to paracetamol affects boys and girls in a similar way. Since we practically did not observe differences ”, explained the ISGlobal researcher and first author of the study, Sílvia Alemany.
For his part, the ISGlobal researcher and last author of the study, Jordi Sunyer, has ensured that his results address part of the weaknesses of the previous meta-analyzes. “Taking into account all the evidence on the use of paracetamol and neurodevelopment, we agree with the recommendations that they indicate. That, although paracetamol should not be suppressed in pregnant women or in childhood, it should be used only when necessary, “he added.
It is estimated that between 46% and 56% of pregnant women in developed countries resort to paracetamol at some point in pregnancy. Which is considered the safest analgesic / antipyretic in this period and in childhood.
However, some studies have begun to link prenatal paracetamol exposure with poorer cognitive performance. Plus more behavior problems, autism, and ADHD symptoms. «These are studies criticized for their heterogeneity. So on this occasion “an effort has been made to harmonize the way in which symptoms have been evaluated or defined, as well as what it means to be exposed to paracetamol,” Alemany detailed.
Most of the studies are very oscillating so they advocate for more research
»The sample is large and jointly analyzes cohorts from different European countries. Some of them are the United Kingdom, Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy, Greece and Spain. In all the cohorts studied, the criterion has been the same. Thus, the heterogeneity of criteria that previous studies suffered from has been reduced.
The study has also analyzed postnatal infantile exposure to paracetamol, without in this case an association between paracetamol taken in childhood and the symptoms of ASD being observed. Despite this, the scientific team recommends further research, given the heterogeneity of exposure in the various cohorts studied. That ranged between 6% and 92.8%.
All this opens the door to research on the health of people who suffer from these types of diseases. Since normally these focus on realities that are not contrasted and give rise to equivocal and problematic thoughts. These circumstances being increasingly common, so it is necessary to continue researching their causes and possible preventive treatments.