Scientists at Bristol University UK, have recently found a link between intake of paracetamol during pregnancy and potential adverse behavioural and cognitive outcomes during childhood.
Paracetamol is commonly used to relieve pain during pregnancy and is recommended as the treatment of choice by many medical experts.
According to the lead author, Jean Golding, the findings reinforce the advice that women should be cautious when taking medication during pregnancy.
She added that most epidemiological studies assessing the potential adverse effects of taking paracetamol during pregnancy have focused on childhood asthma and results from several of them have confirmed a robust association.
Using questionnaire and school information from Bristol’s “Children of the 90s” study, researchers examined 14,000 children. 43 per cent of the mothers of the children said that when they were seven months pregnant, they had taken paracetamol ‘sometimes’ or more often during the previous three months. Researchers examined results of the children’s memory, IQ and pre-school development tests, temperament and behaviour measures.
They found an association between paracetamol intake and hyperactivity and attention problems as well as with other difficult behaviours with young children that were not accounted for by the reasons why the medication was taken or social factors. However, this was no longer the case by the time the children reached the end of primary school. Also, boys appeared to be more susceptible than girls to the possible behavioural effects of the drug.
“It is important that our findings are tested in other studies, we were not in a position to show a causal link, rather an association between two outcomes. It would also be useful now to assess whether older children and adults are free of difficult behavioural problems if their mother had taken paracetamol.” Golding noted