Tylenol Use During Pregnancy May Increase ADHD Risk for Children

spilled pillsThe manufacturer and some doctors are trying to dismiss the new research, despite mounting evidence of Tylenol’s dangers. Action Alert!
A study just published in JAMA Pediatrics finds that Tylenol (acetaminophen) taken by women during their pregnancy may raise the risk of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) and similar disorders in their children up to 40%—with the risk increasing the more acetaminophen the mother takes.
Acetaminophen can cross the placental barrier, and the study’s authors say it is plausible that the drug may interrupt fetal brain development by interfering with maternal hormones or through neurotoxicity.
Infections such as influenza in pregnancy are known to affect the brain development of infants—they’re linked to autism, for instance. So the researchers in this study asked women if they were taking acetaminophen to reduce a fever to treat flu symptoms. Even when taking this into account, women who took acetaminophen were more likely to have children later diagnosed with ADHD.
This isn’t the first study to note the connection between a mother’s Tylenol use and her child’s reaction to the toxic drug. A study published late last year showed that women taking acetaminophen during pregnancy increased the risk of their children having serious behavior problems at age 3 by an overwhelming 70%.
Troublingly, some conventional physicians are dismissing the study out of hand, stating that a cause-and-effect relationship hasn’t yet been proven and that further study is required. Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, stated, “From a pediatric perspective, the editorial did not recommend a change in practice, and that seems reasonable. I don’t think we know that anything is safer than acetaminophen.”
Nothing safer than acetaminophen? Every year, 78,000 people go to the emergency room from intentional or accidental acetaminophen overdose; 33,000 are hospitalized, and about 450 die. The problem has gotten so bad that the FDA has asked doctors to stop prescribing any medication that has more than 325 mg of acetaminophen per dose.
The study soundly contradicts Dr. Adesman’s statement about Tylenol’s safety. The researchers put it this way: “We always thought acetaminophen is kind of harmless and not so bad to take during pregnancy, and probably it is, if you take it once or twice. But if you take it repeatedly, you see these risks creeping up. It’s not the greatest news for [pregnant] women. We really don’t have a safe drug, I’m afraid” (italics ours).
Unsurprisingly, the manufacturer is denying any accountability, citing the lack of “randomized controlled studies demonstrating a causal link.” We would note that the lack of causal evidence was cited for the relationship between smoking and cancer as well!
The drug maker’s further statement that Tylenol has “one of the most favorable safety profiles” is ridiculous if one simply looks at the data, as we reported in January. According to the FDA, acetaminophen was the leading cause of acute liver failure in Americans between 1998 and 2003. There is no reason to think this has changed since. Acetaminophen is dangerous because just a small extra amount can create a dangerous overdose: twice the maximum safe dose taken over just several days could cause severe liver damage. Sometimes, according to the former head of the Drug Information Center at the Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania, “the difference between a safe dose and a dangerous dose is two Extra Strength Tylenol tablets.”
Dr. Joseph A. Mercola has some advice for a toxin-free pregnancy: avoiding any and all unnecessary drugs and vaccinations; buy organic foods to reduce exposure to pesticides and GMOs; avoid items that contain BPA; and use natural cleaning products and toiletries in your home.
As if that weren’t enough to worry about, many doctors favor the injection of powerful steroids into the mother when there is any risk of premature birth. These steroids are supposed to increase a premie’s chances of survival, but the positive effects (mostly on the lungs) last only a few days at most. Very few expectant mothers are told the truth—that the injections must be repeated over and over again until the child is born to have any lasting effect.
If Tylenol affects brain development, imagine what these powerful steroids do. And don’t expect to get much information any about long-term side effects. Some of the developmental consequences might not show up for a decade or more, and who can prove that problems at that stage are linked to the pregnancy?
Action Alert! Tell the FDA to change its labeling on drugs containing acetaminophen to provide a warning to pregnant mothers. The evidence is clear—don’t wait until more young lives are harmed! Send your message to the FDA today!


  1. When tylenol was seeking FDA approval, the doctors were very close to having it banned, at the last minute the drug companies pulled some legal shenanigans that allowed it to be approved. Drug companies are only interested in money.

  2. I am fascinated by all the research that has been coming out about these environmental causes of ADHD symptoms in studies. Air quality, lead exposure, food dyes, and pregnancy behaviors all seem like a strong likelihood of having this effect. I have even seen some blogs saying that about cell phones having an ability to raise lead levels.
    Interesting side note about smoking and cancer BTW, this website seems to speak the truth unlike any other which is why I read all the the emails I get from this website. There should definitely be a warning label, there is enough evidence now to warrant it.

  3. This is troublesome! When you are pregnant, Tylenol and Ibuprophen are recommended. There’s no warning by doctors that it might harm either the Mother or the Child! It would seem only responsible to warn Mothers of this danger!

  4. Every kind of these new synthetic drugs are hidden killers. Doctors give them out like candy & swear they are all right.

  5. I had used acetaminophen for ages with no problem. then, when I upped my dose to maximum for a hip injury, it caused problems. nope, no alcohol. yep, wouldn’t use acetaminophen again if it was the last pain reliever on earth. luckily, I had the presence of mind to take milk thistle, nad, and other stuff to counteract what the acetaminophen did. read up on naturopathic remedies. worked great but took months. I now take naproxen and haven’t had any problem except water retention, which is usual for it.
    remember when they pulled Tylenol off the market for awhile because of some strange odor? what exactly was the real problem. we’ll never know the full story I think. could the formulation have changed? we won’t know that either. I sure wouldn’t trust any acetaminophen brand again ever, generic or not.

  6. ADHD can be due to Celiac. No gluten/dairy/soy/sugar/GMO…vitamins/good oils may help and more. Gluten may hurt the intestines so less nutrients absorb..then brain/body cells are not made right to work right.

  7. PUTTING ACETAMINOPHEN (TYLENOL) INTO PERSPECTIVE Read whole article at http://www.nutritionexercise.us
    A mother whose son had the flu died of self-medicating on multiple acetaminophen products pleaded with the FDA to prevent this from happening in the future. It fell on deaf ears back in the 1990’s. I believe our medical leadership lacks compassion, empathy and real concern for preventing unnecessary pain and suffering due to the over use of OTC and Rx drugs in the US. Acetaminophen is the poster child of bad medicine. When will bad drug marketing stop trumping good medicine? This drug should only be sold under a pharmacist’s supervision. Period.

  8. I don’t know what’s in Tylenol and I don’t know what’s in vaccines, I DO KNOW that the corporation that makes these are not pro humanity, that’s all I know. That’s enough.

  9. When are the so called protective agency’s that a policing the drug manufacturer’s going to do their job and climb out of bed with these greedy unremorseful dollar hungry dimwits? I hope the citizens of this country and the world rise up and run all of them straight to poor house. Unfortunately, they have stolen the court system as well. We need a world wide grass roots coalition to drive them out of business.

  10. In the 70s my herb books showed that raspberry leaf tea helps reduce miscarriages. Back then herb books that mentioned marijuana (at LEAST ONE) showed it as an abortificant – so don’t smoke the herb if you expect to have kids. Neighbor in late 70s and his wife smoked every day.
    Three miscarriages before 20 yrs old. Mentioned the pot/abortificant thing, she stopped, kid city.

  11. I work with my dreams a lot. One night I had one that stated frankly, that the Pharmaceutical Companies of America are committing Crimes Against Humanity. Nazis, at the Nuremburg trials, post WWII, were accused of the same thing. So true.

  12. Nearly 39 years ago, I suffered with severe headaches in my first trimester of pregnancy. Friends though me crazy to follow doctor’s instructions by taking NOTHING. He suggested bedrest with cold packs, that’s it. All these many years later, he was right and I’m glad to have followed those orders.
    But here’s something doctors don’t want you to know, that when it comes to management of pain intermittent pain, you are far better off taking a narcotic pain reliever than an over the counter medication. In fact, one of the strongest, Dilaudid, has far fewer potential side effects, or strain on the internal organs, than tylenol. Doctors have an irrational fear of prescribing narcotics. Fact is, fewer than 1% of patients have hospital (or medically) acquired addition issues. Those who do develop an addition actually had addiction issues prior to treatment.

  13. Just one comment about the steroids the mother receives if at risk for premature birth. It is true the maximum effect is within 48 hours after receiving. What isn’t true it that it needs to be repeated over and over. The course of steroids is 2 injections, 24 hours apart. We do not repeat the course due to studies showing a decrease in the mylein in nerve cells. This practice of repeating weekly was stopped at least 10 years ago.
    I have this knowledge because I am an RN specializing in high risk pregnancy care and see thousands of patients each year.
    We have stopped ordering Tylenol on a “routine basis” or if the mother insists, we give only 325mg.
    I appreciate the info in your newsletter.

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