For years, doctors have told pregnant women that using acetaminophen (Tylenol and Panadol) to reduce pain and fever during pregnancy was safe. Now a new report casts doubt on the safety of acetaminophen, linking use during pregnancy with a greater potential for having a child be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
An Increased Risk, Especially in Last Two Trimesters of Pregnancy
The report, published Monday in the journal, JAMA Pediatrics, was based on a study involving 64,000 Danish mothers and their children. The women who had regularly used acetaminophen during pregnancy were found to be approximately 40% more likely to have a child diagnosed with ADHD than mothers who had not taken the drug. The study also showed that the likelihood of a child developing ADHD symptoms severe enough to require medication increased 63% when the mother had taken acetaminophen during the last two trimesters of pregnancy, and 28% when used only during the last trimester. The increased risk was smallest when mothers had confined acetaminophen use to the first trimester: approximately 9%.
Researchers cautioned that pregnant women should not change any of their current medication practices because of these findings without first consulting their doctor. The study did not show a cause-and-effect relationship but did suggest a correlation between maternal use during pregnancy and having a child with ADHD. Authors of the study suggested that acetaminophen may increase the potential for ADHD by disrupting maternal hormones that are critical for healthy fetal brain development. This suggestion was based in part on a previous study of acetaminophen use during pregnancy and the potential for having a child develop autism.
Nature versus Nurture: The Refrigerator Mother Theory
Doctors have long known the association between the use of certain drugs and birth defects, but until recently, there has been less understanding and appreciation for the role that environmental toxins and genetics play in influencing the development of neurological/behavior/emotional disorders, such as ADHD and autism. This may be due in part to long-held and biased assumptions that such disorders were the result of “nurturing” influences, namely poor or inappropriate parenting.
Between the 1950’s and 1970’s, the term, “refrigerator mother”, was widely used by psychologists to label mothers of children diagnosed with autism and schizophrenia. The term inferred that such disorders and diseases were caused by the mother’s coldness and lack of nurturing. Unfortunately, this theory persists to present day—even among some well-known psychologists and child abuse experts. As research into the genetics and environmental influences relative to the cause of these heartbreaking diseases and disorders has progressed, the United States has largely rejected this outdated view. Unfortunately, the refrigerator theory still enjoys some support in France, Ireland and other parts of Europe as well as South Korean where cold mothers or parents are blamed for significant (and worldwide) increases in the rate of autism.
Choose an Experienced and Knowledgeable Trial Lawyer
Understanding of the etiology of disorders and diseases once deemed as purely psychological in origin has advanced with scientific and medical revelations about the causal and contributory role of genetics and environmental toxins. To lay blame and stigma on a mother or parents for their child’s autism, schizophrenia, ADHD or other so-called “psychological” disorders, is unenlightened and incredibly cruel. If you have a child who has been diagnosed with a disease or disorder that may have been caused by an exposure to an environmental toxin, consult with a top trial lawyer who has experience and knowledge in representing product liability cases. Our representation is based on current research and facts as well as compassionate understanding of the anguish and burdens parents with special children bear. Call us immediately at 314-409-7060 or 855-40-CRASH (toll free).
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