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Tylenol Use During Pregnancy May Affect Baby Development

Elizabeth Keefe | 1, December 2013


Do you have a headache, a backache, or other pregnancy symptom that you need to take a Tylenol for? Hold that thought! You may just need to suffer in silence according to a new study. Ragnhild Eek Brandlistuen, the lead researcher of the study said, "Our findings suggest that acetaminophen might not be as harmless as we think."

Pregnant women have been taking acetaminophen since it existed. In fact, isn't this the advice our OBGYNs have been giving us all along? To take a Tylenol? However, according to the new study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in August of 2013, pregnant women who use the popular over the counter drug may need to deal with their aches and pains the old fashion way — waiting it out and suffering in silence.

As part of the study conducted at University of Oslo's School of Pharmacy in Norway, 48,631 children whose mothers used Paracetamol (acetaminophen) on a long-term basis were found to have reduced development at age three.

The study conducted between 1999 and 2008 asked pregnant women to keep a log and record their use of acetaminophen at week 17, week 30, and again at 6 months postpartum. In 2011, those mothers were then asked to submit a questionnaire. The results of the study found that of the 4% of the women who took acetaminophen for more than 28 days during pregnancy, 70% had children with developmental delays in the following categories:

In a statement to Reuters Health, Johnson & Johnson spokesperson Jodie Wertheim, stated, "[Tylenol] has an exceptional safety profile. As the authors note in the study, there are no prospective, randomized controlled studies demonstrating a causal link between acetaminophen use during pregnancy and adverse effects on child development." She advised that women need to follow the label's directions for use. "Consumers who have medical concerns or questions about acetaminophen should contact their health care professional."

Can you take ibuprofen instead?

The medication options are slim for pregnant women needing to ease the pain of pregnancy symptoms. Until now, doctors have told women that taking acetaminophen was the only safe medication available during pregnancy. While no developmental problems were found in children whose mothers took ibuprofen during pregnancy, it is still not advised by the medical community.

Ibuprofen has generally been avoided due to the lack of known side effects during pregnancy and categorized by the FDA as a Class C medication if taken before 30 weeks and Class D if taken after, according to In an article published by The Guardian in September of 2011, research has shown that taking ibuprofen doubles a woman's risk of having a miscarriage.

Other ways to ease to pregnancy symptoms

Other than suffering, pregnant women need to discuss with their doctor about any options that are available for pain relief during pregnancy. A decision about taking acetaminophen during pregnancy should also be discussed. In the meantime, try adding ginger, almonds, salmon, and cherries to your diet. These foods have been shown to provide natural pain relief and may have anti-inflammatory properties to them as well.

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