New Study Finds Possible Link Between Paracetamol and Behavioural Problems

Experts are urging women not to panic but to exercise caution when taking Paracetamol

New research has come out to suggest pregnant women should exercise caution when taking paracetemol due to a possible link with behavioural problems in children.  

A long-term study of almost 8000 mothers out of the UK found an association between women who used the drug during pregnancy and hyperactivity and emotional problems in children aged seven.

Published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, the study found that 53 per cent of women took the drug at 18 weeks, and 42 per cent at 32 weeks.   

By the age of seven, they found that the children of women who reported taking paracetamol during pregnancy were 46 per cent more likely to display some type of behavioural disorder than those whose mothers had avoided taking the drug.

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Around 5% of the children in the study were found to have behavioral problems.

Further research however is required, and Dr Luke Grzeskowiak, specialist pharmacist and researcher at the Robinson Institute and University of Adelaide, tells SMH that the study is not strong enough to stop the use of paracetemol in pregnant women for the relief of pain and fever.

“We’re talking about an extra one to two cases [of behavioural problems] per 100 births being linked to paracetamol use,” he said. “So in this study, 95 per cent of mums who took paracetamol during pregnancy had a child with no problems at seven years of age … I think that message gets lost in a lot of this.”

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Paracetemoel is recommended for pregnant women due to the link between other drugs like ibuprofen, which is linked to increased risk of miscarriage and can cause harm to the fetus.

“The key message from this study is only to take paracetamol when absolutely necessary and to take it for the shortest possible duration, not to avoid it completely,” he said.

Dr Ian Musgrave, from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Adelaide, reiterated the importance of following the advice of a doctor.

“Anyone taking paracetamol should follow the advice of their health practitioner and follow the dosage instructions for paracetamol,” he tells Business Insider.  

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