A new study published in JAMA Pediatrics is raising concern about a potential association between use of acetaminophen in pregnancy and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in offspring. But the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) is urging caution in interpretation and application of the findings, noting that the results relate to long-term use of acetaminophen, which is not typical in pregnancy, and association does not necessarily equal causation.
Researchers from the University of California – Los Angeles and the University of Aarhus, in Denmark, studied 64,322 live-born children and their mothers, who were enrolled in the Danish National Birth Cohort from 1996 to 2002. Use of acetaminophen was assessed by performing 3 computer-assisted telephone interviews during pregnancy and in the 6 months after delivery. Parental reports of behavioral problems in children aged 7 years were identified using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, hyperkinetic (HKD) diagnoses were identified using the Danish National Hospital Registry or the Danish Psychiatric Central registry prior to 2011, and prescriptions for ADHD medications such as methylphenidate, in children were identified using the Danish Prescription Registry. Hazard ratios were estimated for receiving a diagnosis of HKD or using an ADHD medication; risk ratios were estimated for behavioral problems in children after prenatal exposure to acetaminophen.