'Safe' Headache Remedy for Pregnant Moms Could Harm Kids Later On

This Just In 18

acetaminophenSheesh. Seems like practically everything human beings consume or are exposed to on a daily basis poses some sort of horrible risk to expecting moms -- just last week, we learned that phthalates have been linked to pre-term birth; this week, it's the "safest" over-the-counter remedy in everybody's medicine cabinet: Acetaminophen. Yup. You know, the magical headache-eraser/fever-reducer that, up until now, doctors have always recommended as probably the least harmful pharmaceutical painkilling option? Well, according to the latest study, using the stuff 28 times or more during pregnancy can lead to delayed motor and communication skills, as well as behavioral problems, in children later on.

Seriously?! I had my first baby with a midwife and my second with a traditional ob-gyn; both times, acetaminophen (generic, brand-name, whatever) was recommended to me as the first line of defense against pretty much whatever ailed me. They said it was safer than ibuprofen, and I believed them. 

On the one hand, I still do -- most of these "studies" are flawed, on some level, and often at least borderline inflammatory. But there are some rather startling bits of info, like this soundbite from one of the lead researchers:

“Long-term use of (acetaminophen) increased the risk of behavior problems by 70 percent at age three ... That is considerable.”

Yikes. I'll say. So what's an ailing mama-to-be supposed to do? Suffer?? 

I guess, as with all things, moderation is key. Still, if I happened to be pregnant right now, I'd definitely think twice before popping open a bottle of those pills.

Did you take acetaminophen while pregnant?


Image via sacks08/Flickr

is it safe, pregnancy health, pain management


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amazz... amazzonia

is safest if you use it once in a while....28 times during a pregnancy is A LOT!!! i don't think i took it 28 time through my whole life!

nonmember avatar NoWay

No... 28 times is not much if you suffer from severe headaches like I did. That's only twice every three weeks.

LawNO... LawNOrderMommy

For a chronic migraine sufferer like me 28 times isn't a lot. I took childrens asprin during my pregnancy to help take the edge off but mostly I had to bite the bullet. Relocating to Virginia just before summer while hevily pregnant and never having experienced humidity sent my migraines through the roof. I'm talking from once or twice a month to every other day. It was awful.

adamat34 adamat34

There is risk with any med. This websight blows things out.of proportion.

Nancy Pattison

Thankfully I'm allergic to Tylenol, but the drugs that I have taken instead aren't much better for the baby. This pregnancy is almost coming to term, having my son 12/5 with my 2nd c-section, but many things have been different between my first and second pregnancies. Regardless of which drug you are given, OTC or prescription, they all harm you and your baby - I have chronic migraines which are uncontrolled, migraines and several other health issues. With my first son, I took a lot of prescription meds - which really delayed him, I pretty much have sworn off treating my conditions at this point since the "cure" is often worse than the "cause" in my opinion.

cymkare cymkare

Don't almost all three year olds have behavioral issues? It's called being three years old. 

Panda... PandaPop83

I could see how that much Tylenol could be harmful to a fetus, I could also see how it could have some lingering affects as well. I know nothing of these test, so I'm not going to pretend to know it all, but my logic is pretty simple. 28 x 2= 56, and that would be considered a major overdose. Now pass this along to your fetus, who lives in a sack, with no way to rid itself of the toxins in acetaminophen. Affected during development, there's more chances they'll be some residual affects from this. No pill is completely safe. If you take it moderately, maybe. In any case, what you put in your body WILL be passed on to your fetus and he/she may or may not be affected by it. That's the risk you take. Simple as that.

Cheryl Pomianek

That much Tylenol at one time may harm the fetus as it does cross the placenta, but taken over a ten month period? Highly doubtful. Unless the pregnant woman is an alcoholic or has other health issues, Tylenol is pretty safe. A Tylenol overdose is considered to be more than 4000 mg in a 24 hour period.
One study that evaluated the subsequent outcome of pregnancy in women who had taken an acetaminophen overdose during the period from 1984 to 1992 demonstrated no increased risk for fetal malformation. Acetaminophen overdose alone is not an indication for termination of pregnancy.

Lenor... Lenore411

I suffer from severe migraines and cluster headaches and took Excedrin Tension twice a day and Tylenol twice more, Benedryl when I got one.  Yes it was THAT bad, because I also had hyperemesis and could barely eat (I usually take Excedrin Migraine daily, only thing that works).  My liver was checked and my levels were fine.  My son is a happy healthy three old and while I believe that the study has some scientific proof, the article states 4% of the mothers had children with these issues.  What percantage was it genetic factors, other disorders?  It does make you think... And wonder why something hasn't been found that is safe and effective!!

Ashley Crouse

I have this saying... "If it's FDA approved, it's probably not safe." Honestly, what human made chemical is completely safe? None. They can all have bad side effects and cause problems. That's not saying natural remedies are completely safe either. All things have risks. Some people just have to deal with those risks because there is no other option. I try to avoid pain medication as much as I can because I know if you use too much, too often, you can get hooked and have other issues but when your pain is a constant you do need something to help you. Everything is a gamble anymore.

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