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  • Paracetamol increases ADHD risk

    Author: AAP

News that taking paracetamol during pregnancy increases the risk of children having ADHD is "alarming", says an Auckland University researcher.

UPDATE:  click here to read the research paper referenced in this article.

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Paracetamol is the most common drug taken to relieve pain during pregnancy but a new study from New Zealand finds it increases the risk of children developing ADHD.

The Auckland University research released on Friday backs a Danish study from earlier this year which linked the popular painkiller to behavioural disorders.

The study, led by Dr John Thompson, analysed data from a longitudinal study of 871 European infants.

The researchers analysed the drug use of acetaminophen, aspirin, antacids, and antibiotics during pregnancy and then measured behavioural difficulties and ADHD symptoms in the child at age seven and age 11.

Almost half of the study mothers took acetaminophen in the form of paracetamol during pregnancy and their offspring were more at risk of behavioural difficulties and ADHD.

The other drugs caused no significant differences in behaviour, the study found.

"The finding that even low doses of acetaminophen/paracetamol (indicated by the number of weeks of drug exposure) can affect behaviour seven years later is alarming because it is the most commonly used antenatal drug," Dr Thompson said.

But the study didn't have data on whether the ADHD symptoms continued in puberty, if the parents had ADHD, or what kind of dosage and in which trimester the mothers had used paracetamol.

"More research is needed to provide a more precise assessment of the risk and consequences of taking this pain killer during pregnancy," said Dr Thompson.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD affects five to 10 per cent of school-age children in New Zealand, making it the most common neurodevelopmental disorder for the age group.

Copyright AAP 2014


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