Two-Sided Sword: ADHD, Tylenol In Utero Linked?

downloadHow do we decide what is healthy for our babies or for ourselves?  Scientists and doctors report their findings and the public dangles in space wondering what is the safest bet for protecting those we love.  Being older than the average I remember when aspirin was a wonder drug, when it was suspected to be dangerous and when it was a wonder drug again.  Take a multiple vitamin a day my doctor said.  Now “a study says” there is no need to do so.  Researchers are learning about the body and the impact of drugs, vitamins and minerals so fast, we could get whiplash.  The Los Angeles Times reported the latest “study” is about using acetaminophen (Tylenol) when pregnant.  The sub-headline: INCIDENCE (of ADHD) UP TO 63% MORE LIKELY IF USED IN PREGNANCY.”,0,2353473.story  Pain or ADHD is the question.

In the article based on a study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics Melissa Healy points out that, “The findings do not establish that prenatal exposure to acetaminophen… caused the observed increase in hyper activity disorders.  But they underscore that medications are only ‘safe” for pregnant women until studies become sensitive enough to detect subtle problems.”  Unsatisfactory if you are trying to decide ADHD or pain.

“As such research moves forward…it’s best to follow a ‘less is better’ rule when it comes to taking medications during pregnancy.”  Unsatisfactory if you are trying to decide ADHD or pain.

An issue to consider, one doctor said that he would recommend Tylenol to a patient with a fever because “an unchecked fever during pregnancy has been linked to lower IQ in children.”  Ah, a new consideration, ADHD, lower IQ or pain.

“An editorial published alongside the report also cautioned that physicians and pregnant women would be wrong to change their practices on the basis of one study alone.”  But the article then goes on to discuss the following:

  • UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health: acetaminophen may behave as an endocrine-disrupting chemical capable of influencing fetal brain development.
  • A Norwegian study published in October “found that when a mother gave birth to a child after having taken acetaminophen during pregnancy, the child was more likely to have developmental problems relating to movement, dexterity and communication than was a sibling born after an acetaminophen-free pregnancy.
  • Quoting the article in JAMA, overall, about 55 percent of mothers took acetaminophen at some point during their pregnancy…Based on parents’ assessments of their children’s emotional, social and learning strengths and weaknesses over a six-month period, the baseline incidence of ADHD-like behavior in children who weren’t exposed to acetaminophen in utero was about 2.5 percent.  Among those who used the medication at some point during pregnancy, the rate was 3.4 percent.

I use Tylenol.  But I’m long past getting pregnant.  We used to worry how “bad” drugs would hurt our children.  Now we find that “good” drugs may be as problematical.  Feel like the world is moving too fast for you?  Me too.  Parenting has even more traps than we knew of before.  The question again is pain or ADHD?  How will you decide?

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