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Does Tylenol Cause ADHD?

A new study found a correlation between the use of acetaminophen during pregnancy and ADHD.

By Brian Slupski

A long-term study of more than 64,000 children has raised concerns that extended use of medications with acetaminophen could increase the risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The study by UCLA and the University of Aarhus in Denmark found an increased likelihood of ADHD  nearly doubled when mothers used the painkiller for more than 20 weeks during pregnancy, UCLA's website reported.

The study was published in JAMA Pediatrics. Children and mother's were enrolled from 1996 to 2002 and at each trimester mothers were asked if they had used acetaminophen, Fox News reported. The study followed up with the same women when their children were 7 years old and asked about behavioral patterns and prescription rates of medicines such as Ritalin.

Forbes reported that the study found that the chances a child would end up being prescribed an ADHD medication later on rose by 50 percent. The story noted that acetaminophen – the active ingredient in medications such as Excedrin and Tylenol – can cross the placenta and make its way to the fetus.

The authors of the study state that it is plausible that acetaminophen could interrupt fetal brain development by interfering with maternal hormones or through neurotoxicity.

However, Forbes notes that the study could not establish "causation," only a correlation between the use of acetaminophen and later behavior problems.

Howdy February 26, 2014 at 12:28 PM
Does Tylenol cause ADHD?... No.
Tom Bartman February 26, 2014 at 08:21 PM
ADHD is a fake disorder. How many cases of ADHD were there in the 70's, 80's, and 90's? The same number as peanut allergies back then. Bipolar and ADHD were beaten out of children along with discipline long before parents were glued to cell phones/facebook instead of caring for kids. Today we just give drugs when a kid snaps or can't concentrate. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jan/6/adhd-fake-disorder-neurologist-turned-author-says/
Sean Duggan February 27, 2014 at 07:28 AM
@Howdy: All the study seems to indicate is that there is a potential correlation, and it's probably not horribly reliable data since it involved self-reporting. It will take more research to really suss out what's going on. It could be that something in the parents that increases the risk of ADHD also raises the possibility of them taking Tylenol, e.g. that stress hormones from migraines increase the incidence of ADHD. @Tom Bartman: I couldn't disagree more. I think that ADHD is potentially overdiagnosed, but it definitely exists as a condition. I think the real question is whether more minor cases of it might be better served by not immediately moving to medication.

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