A new study says that pregnant women who take paracetamol risk giving birth to a child with behavioural problems.
According to Daily Mail, the study from Bristol University showed the drug can harm developing babies and women are now being advised only to take small doses while they are expecting. Scientists discovered that there was a link between expectant mothers using this painkiller and their children being hyperactive and having emotional issues.
Paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen and APAP, is the world's most popular painkiller and is the only one considered safe to take during pregnancy. However, research suggests it could damage the development of children in the womb, with studies linking it with asthma, infertility and autism. In the latest research, scientists examined data from 14,000 children between the ages of six months and 11 years.
The researchers used questionnaire and school information from Bristol's 'Children of the 90s' study and analyzed the results of the youngsters' memory, IQ, temperament and behaviour tests. This was compared with data showing how frequently their mothers had taken paracetamol between 18 and 32 weeks of pregnancy. The study found a 'causal link' between taking paracetamol and behavioural issues in children including hyperactivity and attention-deficit disorder. The study prompted warnings for pregnant women to use only the lowest possible dose of paracetamol for the shortest time.
Lead study author Professor Jean Golding said: "Our findings add to a series of results concerning evidence of the possible adverse effects of taking paracetamol during pregnancy such as issues with asthma or behaviour in the offspring. It reinforces the advice that women should be cautious when taking medication during pregnancy and to seek medical advice where necessary."
Andrew Whitelaw, emeritus professor of neonatal medicine at Bristol, said there is a possibility that, in certain women, it is the reason for paracetamol, rather than the medication itself, which has affected the child's brain.
According to Dr. Pat O'Brien, of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the results show only an association between paracetamol use and adverse outcomes. He adds that more research is needed to determine the causation. For him, paracetamol remains safe for use in the treatment of mild to moderate pain in women during pregnancy and breastfeeding.