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Pregnancy can be hard on a woman’s body. As the body shifts to make room for a new baby, body aches and cramps are sure to accompany it. Doctors usually advise pregnant women to take acetaminophen to reduce fevers and manage pain. However, women have come forward to file Tylenol lawsuits after studies revealed a link between autism and acetaminophen. This research is making some women think twice before taking medications like Tylenol and NyQuil.
Tylenol (acetaminophen) is one of the most popular over-the-counter medications for pain and fever relief. However, research has shown an increased risk of the following:
- Autism Spectrum Disord
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
In addition, several other developmental disorders may develop in children exposed to acetaminophen during pregnancy. The Carlson Law Firm is in the early stages of investigating Acetaminophen’s link to autism. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation for a Tylenol Lawsuit today.
What is autism?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental disorder that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn, and behave.” People with ASD often have a hard time communicating and interacting with other people. Additionally, they have symptoms that affect how they function in school, work, and other areas of their life. ASD affects all genders, races, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds. Doctors can diagnose most children with ASD by the age of two.
What kind of symptoms do people with ASD experience?
Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means that people with ASD experience a wide variety in type and severity of symptoms. While some people may only have mild symptoms, others may have severe symptoms that greatly impair their ability to function in society.
Some symptoms make communication difficult, such as:
- Lack of eye contact
- Not responding or being slow to respond to name or other calls for attention
- Displaying body language that doesn’t match what is said
- Difficulty adjusting behavior to social situations
- Having a hard time with the “back and forth” of conversation
Other types of symptoms include repetitive and restrictive behaviors, like:
- Repeating certain behaviors
- Having an intense interest in specific topics
- Difficulty dealing with changes in routine and transitions
- Having more or less sensitivity to light, sound, clothing, or temperature
However, not all aspects of ASD are negative, as people with autism also have many strengths. For example, some people with ASD can learn things in great detail and remember information for long periods of time. They may also excel in math, science, art, and music.
What causes autism spectrum disorder?
Scientists aren’t sure what the primary causes of ASD are, but they have suggested that a person’s genes may react with their environment to affect development in ways that might lead to ASD. Although the exact causes are unknown, researchers have noted some factors associated with a higher likelihood of ASD:
- Having a sibling with ASD
- Child born to parents of advanced age
- Having certain genetic conditions, such as Down Syndrome or Fragile X Syndrome
- Being born at a very low birth weight
What is acetaminophen?
Acetaminophen, also known as paracetamol, is a pain reliever and fever reducer. It treats minor to severe aches and pains, such as headaches, backaches, muscle aches, cramps, and minor arthritis pain. Doctors typically advise pregnant women that acetaminophen is the safest pain reliever. This is because it is not an NSAID, or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, which cause birth defects. Though doctors say acetaminophen is safe in small amounts, recent studies have shown that there may be a link between acetaminophen to autism and ADHD.
How does acetaminophen work?
According to MedicineNet, the exact mechanism of acetaminophen is unclear. Scientists believe that it may reduce the production of prostaglandins in the brain, which are chemicals that cause inflammation and swelling. It also helps relieve pain by raising the pain threshold.
As for reducing a fever, acetaminophen works in the heat regulation center of the brain. When your body is running a fever, acetaminophen tells it to lower the temperature, breaking the fever.
What other medicines is acetaminophen in?
Acetaminophen is a very common drug, and many different brands of medicine use it as an active ingredient. A few of them are:
Is acetaminophen linked to autism?
While there are many studies on this subject, there are two major studies that suggest acetaminophen is linked to autism. The first was conducted by researchers from the John Hopkins Bloomberg Public School of Health, and the other was run by researchers at the University of Barcelona.
John Hopkins University study
Dr. Xiaobing Wang and his colleagues, published their findings in 2019 in JAMA Psychiatry. In the study, researchers analyzed data from the Boston Birth Cohort. They collected blood from the umbilical cords of 996 births and measured the levels of acetaminophen and its byproducts. When all of the children were about nine years old, the researchers found that 25.8% had been diagnosed with ADHD, 6.6% had been diagnosed with ASD, and 4.2% had been diagnosed with ADHD and ASD.
The blood samples were separated into three groups by the amount of acetaminophen they contained. Compared to the group with the lowest amount, the group with the second highest amount of acetaminophen was 2.14 times more likely to have ASD, while the group with the highest amount was 3.62 times more likely to have ASD.
The researchers concluded that their research supports the idea that acetaminophen is linked to autism. However, they also acknowledged the limitations of this study and called for more research to be done.
University of Barcelona study
Published in May 2021, this study details what researchers from the University of Barcelona found in their analysis of over 73,000 mother and child pairs across Europe. Researchers asked the mothers through interviews and questionnaires whether they had taken acetaminophen during their pregnancy. They found that unborn children exposed to acetaminophen in utero were 19% more likely to have ASD.
Ultimately, the researchers of this study acknowledged the link between acetaminophenand autism. However, like the other study, researchers made sure to note the limitations of the study and called for more research to be done. Additionally, they pointed out that the symptoms which prompted the mothers to take acetaminophen (for pain or fever reduction) could play a role in the development of ASD.
Does acetaminophen cause autism?
Most studies that seek to answer this question, like the two listed above, have been unable to say that acetaminophen causes autism. Many point out that there is a link between the two, but they also call for more research so that they can have a better understanding.
Many doctors continue to advise that taking small doses of acetaminophen is safer than letting a fever go untreated. If you’re concerned about taking Tylenol during pregnancy, contact your doctor for alternative medications.
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