Paracetamol in pregnancy linked to offspring behavioural problems
26th Sep 2014
New Zealand Doctor all articles by this author
CHILDREN whose mothers took paracetamol while pregnant went on to have greater difficulty with emotions, concentration and behaviour than their peers, a New Zealand study has found.
The offspring had significantly worse scores for such difficulties, including ADHD, Auckland University researchers reported in PLOS ONE.
The message for women should be to see their lead maternity carer or GP if they feel ill during pregnancy, study leader Dr John Thompson said.
Dr Thompson prefers this to the default position whereby women readily obtain paracetamol at a pharmacy. He would like to see advice to women modified.
Almost half of the women in the group studied – the Auckland Birthweight Collaborative Study – had taken paracetamol when pregnant, he said in a media release.
Dr Thompson and co-authors said their findings strengthened the contention, arising from an earlier Danish study, that paracetamol exposure in pregnancy increased the risk of ADHD-like behaviours.
Paracetamol crosses the placenta, but no mechanism of action is as yet known, Dr Thompson said.
He is aiming to research this in a new study, and will present the current findings to paediatricians at their November conference.
The findings are drawn from data on 587 children from the Auckland birthweight study followed up at age seven, and 614 children followed up at 11. These children were assessed using validated Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaires.
The aim was to determine the association between drugs commonly taken during pregnancy and ADHD in children in the collaborative study.
Questions covered paracetamol, anti-inflammatories, aspirin-based painkillers, antacids and antibiotics. Only paracetamol was associated with difficulties.
At age seven, children had 20% higher total difficulty scores as gauged from parents’ reports, if their mothers used paracetamol during pregnancy. The scores at age 11, both parent-rated and child-rated, were 10% higher.
The paracetamol group did worse at each age for all difficulty scales, especially inattentive symptoms at seven years old and hyperactive impulsiveness at 11.
Particularly problematic at age seven were parent-reported emotional and conduct problems and, at age 11, child-reported conduct and hyperactivity/inattention problems.
The researchers found the differences remained after controlling for factors that might influence medication-taking in pregnant women and factors likely to predispose toward ADHD symptoms.
The researchers did not have information on dosage of acetaminophen or the trimester when used.
PLOS One 2014; online 26 Sept
Source : Medicalobserver
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