The most widely used form of pain reliever is acetaminophen or paracetamol, it has been a widely available and recommended for pain relief and fever reducing for more than 60 years. Over time, it has garnered a reputation for being a completely safe and trustworthy medication. However, the truth is it harms many people, babies included, every single year.
Averages from a 2006 study account for an annual count of 78,414 overdoses of acetaminophen. That’s just for one year and doesn’t include abuse-related cases. Parents have come to trust this routine infant medication for their children. When teething arises, they reach for the over the counter medicine recommended by their doctor.
When their little one comes down with a cold and the fever spikes a little higher than they’re comfortable with in the evening hours, acetaminophen has always been there as a reliable standby for parents to turn to. They might even remember their parents giving them the sugary syrup as a child and feeling relief as it took effect.
Flavored and colored to appeal to children, Moms and Dads, this over-the-counter problem solver may also be creating a few problems of its own. Unfortunately, many of them are slow to show themselves and parents may not be aware that the medication is an issue before it’s too late.
There are alternatives that parents can use instead of acetaminophen to aid in reducing the risks the popular drug may pose. As with any kind of intervention, it’s best to be informed when making the choice to use a drug, even one as common and well-recognized as acetaminophen.
15 Medicating A Fever With Acetaminophen Is Harmful
Alright, this one isn’t really indicative of how acetaminophen directly harms anyone, but rather how using it to medicate a fever may worsen the overall situation or health of the child. When a baby, or anyone, develops a fever, it is a response mechanism. The body is warming itself up on purpose to try to fight off something that is attacking it.
Whether it’s infectious or viral, technically you want to be aware of it. Medicating the fever can make serious situations look like they aren’t too bad. It also takes away the opportunity for exposure to an attack on the immune system, which is necessary in order to build itself up.
In essence, if your baby is never exposed to contagions and allowed to fight them off naturally — including the fever process — then the immune system will never fully develop as well as it would have had you not medicated the fever.
Unless a fever reaches a level that is truly too high, it is perfectly fine and actually better for your child to allow it to progress on its own. Until their third month of age, an infant’s fever warrants a trip to the doctor if it inches above 100.4 degrees. From there until six months, you can cuddle them at home up until 101 degrees.
After the sixth month, though, fevers as high as 103 degrees are no worrisome. A lukewarm bath, nursing and snuggling can go a long way.
14 Dyes And Parabens Are Endocrine Disruptors
Most of the children’s acetaminophen formulas contain butylparaben. Parabens are additives put into many commercial substances. They are categorized by the Environmental Working Group as being highly hazardous to the health of ourselves and our children. It’s not surprising given that they are known endocrine disruptors.
In addition, there is strong speculation that they are carcinogenic, though researchers are still in search of solid proof. Dyes can be problematic for other reasons. Red dye 40 is the most commonly used dye in acetaminophen for children and it has been linked to hyperactivity, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.
Some parents are also concerned over the use of artificial sweeteners and flavors in infant acetaminophen, too — both ingredients that have been linked to the same issues. Blue no. 1 is also commonly used in popular products and has been linked to kidney tumors in studies on mice.
13 Regular Acetaminophen Use Can Cause Liver Damage
Acetaminophen is the leading cause of acute liver failure in America. Just 7.5 grams per day could cause injury to the liver in an adult. It would require much less in an infant. While that dose is more than what is recommended, regular use of the drug within the confines of the 4000 mg per day recommended maximum can still lead to hepatic injury.
The biggest problem doctors see is acetaminophen use in mothers who breastfeed. Aside from overdose, most problems occur when Mom is drinking alcohol in excess and breastfeeding. This already presents problems since we know alcohol is excreted through the breastmilk.
If Mom is also giving the baby an over the counter medicine when the baby is consuming even small amounts of alcohol, both at one time may be too taxing for a small baby. It’s not common, but this situation happens more often than you think.
12 Causes Emotional Woes
Believe it or not, acetaminophen has been linked to the development of conduct disorders and emotional troubles in children. Animal studies show the drug is an endocrine disruptor that interferes with brain development. Messing around with hormones and brain chemicals is a surefire way to increase the risk of neurological and mood-based disorders.
The human body is created with optimal functionality in mind and when we poke around and change this, it triggers a cascade of chemical disruptions that can permanently alter the way the body operates.
More specifically, the drug has been linked to the development of conduct disorder. Children who suffer from this disorder often boast antisocial personality types. Other studies have shown youths are more likely to abuse acetaminophen as a method of reducing emotional pain just as it claims to reduce physical pain.
This drug is actually the most common one taken among people who are trying to commit suicide.
11 Reaction Of Acetaminophen And Contagions
Glutathione is tripeptide compound in the body that is responsible for helping to rid the body of toxins. By toxins it's not just poisons but drugs we purposely take as medication, pesticides in our food, heavy metals in vaccines and more. This oxidation reduction practice is essential to a healthy and fully functioning immune system.
In a body that has impaired amounts of glutathione, the immune system isn’t able to do its job properly and thus, the individual is left more vulnerable to assault and injury.
If an infant has been given acetaminophen and then comes in contact with a contagion that attacks their immune system, they are more likely to get sick and suffer more serious side effects of said illness because of it. Why? It’s simple. Acetaminophen depletes glutathione.
In people who cannot quickly reproduce glutathione on their own, such as those with MTHFR mutations that nearly 60 percent of the population has, they are more likely to suffer greater side effects.
10 Can Cause Acute Generalized Exanthematous Pustulosis
Acute Generalized Exanthematous Pustulosis has been reported as having developed in infants, children and expectant women. In cases of each, it developed after the administration of acetaminophen. It spontaneously is known to appear roughly five days after the administration of the drug.
Since it can develop so many days later, parents often don't connect it with the administration of acetaminophen.
AGEP presents as a severe reaction to an allergen or drug that shows up as pustules on the surface of the skin. It occurs quite rarely in as few as 1 to 5 in 1,000,000 people each year. Nothing can speed up the recovery process, but holding your baby and napping together through the process may make it easier for you both.
After a week or two, the skin will begin to shed and fall off before the condition resolves altogether. This is a normal process and nothing to be concerned about, nor does it need medicating.
9 It Crosses The Blood Brain Barrier
Mothers who develop cholestasis during pregnancy may actually complicate matters further by using acetaminophen — the only pain reliever and fever reducer recommended for use during pregnancy by mainstream medicine. While this disorder isn't a common one — just 1 percent of moms-to-be develop it — 60 to 90 percent of those women will have it again in future pregnancies.
Acetaminophen is heavily taxing on the liver. Thus, individuals who have impaired liver functioning like those with ICP do may struggle with side effects. Even jaundice in the mother can occur. While this issue is often played down as not being dangerous, it is to the developing baby in-utero.
Acetaminophen can be problematic as studies have shown it can impair the functionality of the placental barrier toward bile acids in mothers affected by cholestasis. If this happens, the bile salts may become too elevated and can pose serious risk to the developing baby, including stillbirth.
8 Cardiomyopathy In Heart Disease Patients
People with heart disease are routinely told not to use NSAID pain relievers but to opt for acetaminophen instead. This can be problematic for two reasons. First, acetaminophen has been shown to be less effective in treating pain in these individuals. Second, it puts people with heart disease at a generally higher risk of other issues, such as liver damage.
With an already-weakened organ system in place, people with heart disease must use acetaminophen sparingly and never mix it with alcohol, no matter how much red wine the doctor says if good for your heart. Now most people would assume this has nothing to do with babies. Wrong.
While there are babies who are born with heart disease, expectant mothers with cardiomyopathy are a bigger risk factor. Still, peripartum cardiomyopathy claims the lives of as much as 10 percent of women who suffer with it, so acetaminophen use remains a much smaller problem in the big picture.
Aside from those born with cardiomyopathy, some babies are diagnosed later in infancy and develop the condition with a few days of acetaminophen administration. The verdict is out on the definite cause for these cases, but so far one study has shown a potentially causative link between the disease and the drug.
7 Can Cause Severe Reactions
If AGEP wasn’t enough of a worry, your little one could develop an even more serious skin condition in response to the administration of acetaminophen. Stevens-Johnson Syndrome is an intense reaction that causes the top layer of skin to pull away from underlying layers. As a result, the skin peels and can continue to infect deeper layers resulting in peeling of multiple layers.
Should this happen, antibiotics are far less likely to help tackle the infection that when the skin is only infected on the top layer. As a result, deeper tissues under the skin could be affected, as could nerves. If the infection travels to the blood supply, it will begin to infect .organs throughout the body and can be fatal. Around 10 percent of everyone infected with SLS will die from it.
If it sounds serious, that's because it is, despite how nonchalant we've become about giving acetaminophen to our children.
6 Acetaminophen Can Cause Infections
There is another skin condition that is much the same as SJS, but where SJS occurs in 10 percent or less of the body’s surface area, a more severe form exists when 30 percent or more of the body’s surface is affected.
Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis, also known as TEN, is a potentially fatal condition that affects as many as 1.9 million people, though the incidence among children remains unknown. Acetaminophen is a known cause of TEN in infants and adults.
The risk of infection is high with this illness. In addition, organ failure is a tremendous concern when infection does set in, especially in newborn organs that are more fragile. In roughly a quarter of all cases of TEN, death occurs.
Caution should be used when attempting to diagnose TEN and SJS in infants who are vaccinated since vaccine injury and reactions can appear quite similar to it.
5 Too Much Can Cause Kidney Toxicity
Usually, kidney toxicity only occurs in cases where too much acetaminophen has been used. However, this mismanagement of dosing happens a lot more often than more people realize. Parents often question how anyone could overdose their child, but they fail to recognize the myriad of ways it happens.
Sometimes parents don’t realize that acetaminophen is already in another medication, such as a cold medicine, when they give both that and singular acetaminophen to their children. In other cases, the child may be taking acetaminophen and other amounts of it pass through the breastmilk from their mother who is taking an acetaminophen-containing medication.
With one to three days of administration, the kidney function may begin to wane in these infants. They will have high levels of creatinine and protein in the urine and blood that signals kidney failure. In most cases, infants will be placed on a kidney transplant list according to the severity of their condition and surgery will be needed to repair the issue. Thus, it is life-threatening.
4 Kids Can Develop Asthma
There is an elevated risk for the development in asthma in children who are given acetaminophen early in life. As of 2009, 1 in 12 people were diagnosed with the wheezing disorder that has been known to claim lives in an instant. Among them, over half had an asthma attack the previous year. Among children with the disorder, 57 percent had asthma attacks that year.
As with many other things, it is not fully understood how acetaminophen may increase the risk of developing asthma, but study after study, they continue to be linked together. There is a strong theory that it may not be acetaminophen, but other interventions that commonly occur alongside it, such as antibiotic use and vaccines, that precipitate asthma.
The connection with vaccines and asthma has already been established. Still, it is best to err with caution when using acetaminophen in young children as long as a link exists. Some studies have suggested it may worsen pre-existing asthma, too.
3 Overdosing On Pain Reliever
Overdoses of acetaminophen are easier to come by than most people believe. For example, many people are unaware of the risk involved with combining acetaminophen and other medications that already contain the drug. Growing up, most people have a view of this drug as being the safest one available over-the-counter.
Most people have never even heard of an acetaminophen overdose. Well, trust me, the statistics don’t lie. Often, people take the drug alongside other medications and don’t account for the amount of acetaminophen they contain. Adults should only have up to 4,000 mg a day; infants should have far less at 2.6 grams. Acetaminophen is one of the most common substances of overdose in the world.
When overdose occurs, acetaminophen poisoning often leads to a myriad of other problems discussed here, such as kidney failure and liver damage. In an infant, these problems can take a day or two to start to set in and parents remain unaware that anything is happening. This is especially true if the infant has already been ill — which is common if they’ve been given medication — and their symptoms blur with others of the common cold or infection.
2 Acetaminophen May Cause Hyperactivity
For years, it has been debated whether acetaminophen has any links to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The answer is now known. Studies have shown children born to mothers who consumed acetaminophen during their pregnancy were as much as 40 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.
The exact mechanisms of this behavior and how acetaminophen contributes to it are not fully understood. However, it is plausible that acetaminophen may interfere with neurological development in the brains of developing babies while in-utero. There may also be a link with the previously discussed depletion of glutathione.
It's also possible that a liver that isn't functioning well leaves the body predisposed to greater health effects. We know now that the body is interlinked in a myriad of ways. For example, what happens in the gut does affect the brain and behavior.
What happens with our hormones does affect our joints and cognitive abilities. Just as someone with a hangover from alcohol can't think or function as well the next day, the same side effects may occur as a result of burdening the liver with acetaminophen. Research on this issue is ongoing as the diagnosis of ADHD continues to rise. In America, 11 percent of kids have now been diagnosed with the disorder.
1 Fever Reducers Can Affect Child's Neurobehavioral
Piggy-backing on the glutathione issue, the loss of that compound presents a scary reality for parents who are just trying to help their little ones feel better. They give their children acetaminophen to bring down a fever or reduce pain, and they end up with a child that develops a neurobehavioral disorder. The breakdown of how this happens may very well have something to do with acetaminophen.
This happens often with vaccines. The immune system is purposely attacked by the adjuvants and viruses injected into it. When parents come along and give an over the counter drug before or after a set of shots, they are actually decreasing the efficacy of the vaccines and increasing the risk of injury. This is again because acetaminophen depletes glutathione, and that compound is needed to detox from the adjuvants and preservatives in vaccines.
When a child cannot make enough glutathione rapidly to account for the loss, the heavy metals and other potentially harmful ingredients in the vaccines cross the blood brain barrier and leave the brain and gut exposed for injury.
Parents who are concerned about foregoing medication during vaccines should re-read the above excerpt about why you shouldn’t medicate a fever and also research the Food and Drug Administration’s 2011 hearing on ten studies regarding the efficacy of acetaminophen as a pain reliever. What did they find? It isn’t one.