• Wed, Nov 27 - 10:00 am ET

Sorry Pregnant Ladies, Now You Can’t Even Take Tylenol With A Clear Conscience

51a-d1q+WqL._SY355___1385562836_142.196.156.251Yet another study’s been released that basically tells pregnant women to suffer in silence for almost 10 months. Okay, okay – I’m a fan of hyperbole. But seriously – we can’t even take Tylenol with a clear conscience anymore. Tylenol. According to a new study, frequent use by pregnant women may be linked to poorer language skills and behavior problems in their children.

From Reuters:

“Our findings suggest that (acetaminophen) might not be as harmless as we think,” Ragnhild Eek Brandlistuen said. She led the study at the School of Pharmacy at the University of Oslo in Norway.

She and her coauthors studied 48,000 Norwegian children whose mothers answered survey questions about their medication use at weeks 17 and 30 of pregnancy, and again six months after giving birth.

Close to four percent of women took Tylenol for at least 28 days total during pregnancy.

Their children seemed to have poorer motor skills than kids whose mothers had taken the drug fewer times or not at all. Tylenol-exposed kids also tended to start walking later, have poorer communication and language skills and more behavior problems.

28 total days in the pregnancy? Does that seem like a lot to you – because it doesn’t to me. I had mind-numbing headaches in my first and last trimesters and every time I mentioned them to my midwife she always suggested hydration and Tylenol. In both my pregnancies, Tylenol was always the go-to medication and really the only one that both my midwife and OB would freely recommend.

I didn’t think there was a need to keep track of how much I took, so I didn’t. But frankly, I think I could have conceivably come close to taking it 28 times in the roughly five or so months I had those headaches during my pregnancy. They found no problems in the study linked with Ibuprofen use. But I was always warned against Ibuprofen use while pregnant. It’s considered a category D drug in the third trimester – which always freaked me out: “That means there’s significant evidence that taking it in the third trimester could harm your baby. But ibuprofen doesn’t fit neatly into a category during the rest of pregnancy.”

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

“But for those people who wish to take precautions, this is something they can do,” Herbert said, referring to pregnant women cutting down on Tylenol use or choosing ibuprofen instead.

“With every choice you make, make the healthy choice,” she said.

I’m so glad I’m done making babies.

(photo: Amazon)

You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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  • FaintlyXMacabre

    “I’m so glad I’m done making babies.” Holla.

  • Skipper

    I’m so tired of studies coming out with a “link” between two factors. There seems to be no backing explanation as to whether the Tylenol caused the problem or other factors that caused them to take the Tylenol, such as stress. It just causes me additional stress and guilt.

    • TheGiantPeach

      The last month of my pregnancy I had horrible headaches and took Tylenol on the regular. Turns out I had pre-ecplampsia (probably what was causing the headaches) and my son was born premature. So, if he has any issues could anyone definitively say it was from the Tylenol, the pre-e, or the prematurity?

    • FaintlyXMacabre

      100% of people who drink water will eventually die. Its a big leap from correlation to causation.

    • Jallun-Keatres

      Don’t forget that living causes cancer, cuz cell division!

    • Rachel Sea

      Half of the point of studies is to find correlations, so that causation can be uncovered. The problem is not the studies, it’s the unscientific reporting.

    • Skipper

      Yeah, my point is, I would prefer that the findings of the studies not be reported unless they have actually determined some sort of causation. Simply reporting a correlation just creates speculation, stress, and regret.
      So, if the real cause is the stress that frequent Tylenol-takers are under, this study is potentially furthering the problem rather than leaving everything as it is until more accurate informaion can be released.

    • Rachel Sea

      The study isn’t potentially furthering the problem. These studies have to be made public so that their results can spark further study by other parties. It is the people who talk about it without understanding it that create a problem.

      When writing about a new study, reporters and writers, such as those here on Mommyish, have to choose between inflammatory reporting that garners a lot of page views, and more scientific reporting which doesn’t spark the emotional charge that gets people commenting and sharing. For a lot of outlets, pageviews are more important than accuracy. I’m not sure about which Mommyish has prioritized.

    • Skipper

      It’s furthering the problem for me. I’m pregnant and stressed out about what medications I can take. I don’t think the website if really overhyping this issue – especially since the article is mostly quotes from someone else anyway. It does a good job of backing up the point that we, as women and particularly pregnant women, are expected to be primarily servants to our families and children and to suffer whatever ills may come our way quietly rather that take the teeny tiny risk that it could somehow cause our children to be slightly less than the best he or she can be at every possible point in his or her life. This is all part of a larger discussion.

    • Rebecca R

      It is if I just took extra strength Tylenol yesterday at my OB’s recommendation for severe back pain and am now stressing about what that may have done to my baby. My husband still has ADHD, so now my son is basically screwed. Oh well :)

  • Michelle

    Meh I used Tylenol a lot for painful pubic symphysis diastasis. I’m now looking at a 6 month old that successfully scooted over to the dog toys and is trying to pull one out all while babbling away. Damn if only I didn’t take that Tylenol she’d be walking and doing algebra.

  • NicknamesAreDull

    Every single place I have lived in (as far as Germany, to New Orleans, North Carolina to SoCal) I have gotten a packet in my leasing information that says pregnant women/children/elderly shouldn’t drink the water because it’s bad. Everything you put into your body has risks, it is someone’s job to calculate and make the public aware of the risks. With all the studies that I have read/understood, long term exposure usually requires quite a bit of the medication. Way more than the average person. I don’t think this is anything to worry about.

  • CMc

    I’m sure those women had a whole bunch of medical reasons for taking Tylenol. How do the researchers know that those reasons aren’t what affected the children? So it’s either be in pain which is bad for the baby or take Tylenol which is apparently bad for the baby. It’s a lose-lose.

  • guest

    I’ll probably get down voted for this, but why should we be surprised that taking drugs (even over the counter ones perceived as “safe”) for extended use during pregnancy could have adverse effects on the fetus? There is no drug that is free of all risks.

    • AmazingE

      You’re right, no drug (even “safe” over the counter ones) is without risks. I don’t have a choice but to take Tylenol when it comes to pain relief, because i’m allergic to both aspirin and ibuprofen.

    • CrazyLogic

      It’s more that everyone here is predicting that study is going to be used as yet another thing sanctamomies are going to be condescending about.

  • Rachel Sea

    Correlation is not causation. This study has no practical application yet. Until they figure out why there is a correlation, there is no reason to change behavior. Further study might find that 28+ days worth of pain great enough to indicate medicating is actually what correlates to motor delays due to stress hormones. In the meantime, there is no reason not to keep taking Tylenol because literally no one knows whether it is harmful or helpful.

  • Momma425

    I used Tylenol pm to get to sleep. I switched it off- one night I would take Benadryl, one night, I would take Tylenol pm, and so on.
    My kid turned out fine. Well, other than the third eye, but don’t all kids have their quirks?

  • Alicia Kiner

    That’s awesome. I took Tylenol 3 for migraines during both of my pregnancies. My kids however, never had any problems with milestones. My son even hit most of them earlier than most. He was walking at 9 months. My daughter was slower than my son, but still within recommended time frames. The migraine meds that I take now actually cause abortions, and other horrible side effects. Considering I average 3-4 migraines a week now, and had them daily when I was pregnant with my son, chances are fairly high that my liver is going to stand up one day and scream “F— you, I’m out.”

    • MellyG

      This is what terrifies me. I”m a migraine sufferer, I get them multiple times a week. Traditional migraine meds do nothing – i live off of excedrin mixed with motrin. It doesn’t do much, but it helps enough to make me feel somewhat human. I can’t do 10 months with daily migraines and no relief, i know i can’t – or i’ll be insane – so i’m terrified to get pregnant. Stupid migraines. Oh, and i’m fairly certain my liver will be walking out with yours at some point!

    • Alicia Kiner

      Definitely go talk to a neurologist! There are better options than mixing those two meds together. Trust me.

  • jenstar

    But.. *confused* I LIVE in Norway and was pregnant only last year and my midwife told me to avoid Ibroprofen like the plague and only take paracet.. This study sounds a little suspect, like everyone else has said here it’d be impossible to know if it was actually the paracetamol causing the issues or not, SO many factors to this experiment. I wouldn’t worry ladies, there’s always SOMETHING going to cause irreparable damage isn’t there!