Does paracetamol cause abnormalities in children during pregnancy?

New study
Does paracetamol cause abnormalities in children during pregnancy?

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Paracetamol is a popular painkiller in Germany. A new study now shows that taking it during pregnancy could be associated with behavioral neurological abnormalities in young children.

Sleep and attention disorders in young children can be the result of taking paracetamol during pregnancy, a research team from Pennsylvania State University concludes in a study published in the journal Plos One.

A connection between the intake of paracetamol and abnormalities in the child was investigated

In total, data from 2,422 mother-child pairs were examined by asking about the intake of paracetamol by the expectant mothers. Of these, 41.7 percent stated that they had taken the painkiller during pregnancy. The behavior of the children was then assessed at the age of three. A parent questionnaire on which seven problem scales were recorded served as the basis here. These included emotional reactivity, physical complaints, attention problems, aggressive behavior and sleep problems.

In order to achieve meaningful results, possible confounding factors that could lead to similar behavior in the children were excluded. For example, prenatal stress can also lead to abnormalities in the child later on. After adjusting the results, a significantly increased chance of developing sleep and attention problems with prenatal paracetamol exposure was found.

The study is subject to limitations and therefore does not show any clear results

However, it should be noted that this study has some limitations. Although this study includes prenatal stress as a disruptive factor, the researchers themselves point out a number of limitations. On the one hand, the data basis is based on one-time interviews in the 35th week of pregnancy. On the other hand, neither the dose nor the frequency or the time of taking paracetamol were taken into account. It should also be noted that the behavior of the children was not judged by experts, but by the mothers.

The discussion about paracetamol in pregnancy is basically not new. Due to the limitations set out above, this study is also viewed with skepticism by experts. Because: Ultimately, a connection between the intake of paracetamol and later restrictions for the child has neither been proven nor disproved – the data situation is too sparse for that.

Ultimately, any intake of medication during pregnancy should be discussed with the doctor treating you. the Drug researchers at the Charité continue to give the green light for the use of paracetamol during pregnancy.

Source used: PM Die Science Media Center Germany gGmbH (SMC),


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