Walmart Faces Lawsuit Over Acetaminophen Autism Risk for Pregnant Women
A Minnesota mother has filed a lawsuit against Walmart, claiming the retailer has failed in its responsibility to warn expecting mothers about the autism risks from acetaminophen during pregnancy, which she indicates caused her child to develop the developmental disorder.
Heather Strydom filed a complaint (PDF) against Walmart, Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota on August 2, pursuing damages for herself, and on behalf of her child, identified with the initials S.S. in the lawsuit because they are a minor.
The case joins a growing number of similar acetaminophen autism lawsuits now being pursued against Walmart and other pharmacies, following recent studies that have highlighted the risks pregnant women may face from the Tylenol ingredient.
Each of the complaints raise similar questions of fact and law, indicating that information about the link between actaminophen and autism, ADHD and other neurodevelopmental disorders has been withheld from consumers, who unknowingly exposed their unborn children to long-term risks and challenges that could have been avoided.
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According to the Walmart lawsuit, Strydom took acetaminophen purchased from the store in late 2016, through the birth of her child in 2017. She took the painkiller three to six times per week for back pain and body aches.
“Plaintiff Mother started noticing issues with Plaintiff S.S. when he was an infant, as he was delayed in achieving developmental milestones and in the ability to speak,” the lawsuit states. “Plaintiff S.S. remains non-verbal as of the filing of this complaint.”
He was diagnosed with autism in January 2021, and Strydom indicates he is now enrolled in special education classes.
The lawsuit alleges Walmart never told Strydom and other consumers that there was an autism risk linked to acetaminophen products, indicating that never would have taken the drugs if the autism risks had been disclosed.
Studies Linking Acetaminophen and Autism
In October 2019, a study published in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry found that children with the highest levels of acetaminophen metabolites in their blood at birth had the highest risk of the developmental disorders.
According to additional research published in the European Journal of Epidemiology in June 2021, children exposed to Tylenol during pregnancy were 19% more likely to have autism spectrum disorders and 21% more likely to have ADHD symptoms compared to non-exposed children.
Due to the potential acetaminophen risks for pregnant women, researchers from Columbia University warned that doctors should re-evaluate the role of the pain medication during pregnancy in 2020, after finding that prenatal exposure may lead to impaired neurodevelopment in the fetus.
Due to common questions of fact and law raised in a growing number acetaminophen lawsuits filed over autism and ADHD throughout the federal court system, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) is currently considering a motion to centralize and consolidate the cases before one judge for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.
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