Possible Link Between Drug And Development

Headache? If you're pregnant, you might want to think twice before reaching for that bottle of Tylenol.

Woman taking pills

Tylenol is commonly reached for during pregnancy — after all, it’s one of the safest medications pregnant women can take, right? However, a recent study has made a possible link between women taking too much acetaminophen during pregnancy and problems with the babies they carry.

Potential issues

Acetaminophen has been studied like crazy, and medical practitioners often readily recommend it for aches and pains during pregnancy. Studies have found no link between the over-the-counter drug and miscarriage or preterm birth, for example. The problem is that there is a small margin of error as far as dosage goes — there appears to be not much difference between a therapeutic dose and a harmful one.

A Norwegian study

Researchers in Norway studied 48,000 children to find out their mothers’ medication habits during pregnancy, and they followed up a few years later to find out about their developmental timetables.

They found that around 4 percent of the mothers took Tylenol for at least 28 days during their pregnancies. They discovered that these children tended to have poorer motor skills than their peers whose mothers took less, or didn’t use any at all. They also seemed to begin walking later and have communication, language and behavior issues.

"Long-term use of (acetaminophen) increased the risk of behavior problems by 70 percent at age three," said study author Ragnhild Eek Brandlistuen.

Researchers are limited when they study medication and its effect on pregnant women, because studies with pregnant women aren’t ethical. Also, since this was the first study of its kind, more research need to take place to determine if the link really is there. And remember: As with many studies, even though there seems to be a link, causation cannot be proven.

The bottom line? Carefully consider medication during pregnancy and discuss the risks versus the benefits with your healthcare provider. It’s better to err on the side of caution, but if you need to take some meds, you need to take them.

More on pregnancy

FDA approves morning sickness medication
Internet not accurate when it comes to medication risks
Caffeine during pregnancy may affect birth weight

Tags: medication

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