Taking Tylenol While Pregnant May Increase Risk of Autism, ADHD: Study

Children born to women who took Tylenol during pregnancy have a higher risk of developing autism and ADHD, according to the finings of new research that raises further concerns about the potential side effects of acetaminophen.

In a study published last week in the European Journal of Epidemiology, researchers indicate that exposure to Tylenol during pregnancy may increase the likelihood a child will be on the autism spectrum or have symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Researchers conducted a meta-analysis of six European population-based cohort studies, involving a total of 73,881 mother-child pairs. Researchers focused on prenatal and postnatal use of acetaminophen up to 18 months after birth. Tylenol exposure was assessed through maternal questionnaires or interviews. Autism and ADHD symptoms were assessed at ages 4 to 12. Children were classified as having borderline/clinical symptoms at each assessment.

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The data indicates 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.

The proportion of children having borderline or clinical symptoms ranged between 0.9 and 12.9% for autism spectrum and 1.2 and 12.2% for ADHD.

The association between Tylenol pregnancy exposure and symptoms was strong among both boys and girls, but slightly higher for boys. Additionally, postnatal exposure to acetaminophen was not linked with autism or ADHD symptoms.

Prior studies have suggested the use of Tylenol during pregnancy may increase a child’s risk of developing ADHD and autism. Children with the highest levels of acetaminophen metabolites in their blood at birth had the highest risk of the developmental disorders.

Another study published last year also pointed to a link between Tylenol use during pregnancy and increased risk of ADHD and other neurodevelopmental problems in the child. In fact, one study published last year also indicated epidurals given during child birth to numb the pain may also lead to an increased risk of the child being diagnosed with autism later.

Researchers emphasize the findings of the new study point to a possible link between taking Tylenol during pregnancy and autism and ADHD, but the study does not prove cause and effect between the two and indicates the need for further research.

“These results replicate previous work and support providing clear information to pregnant women and their partners about potential long-term risks of acetaminophen use,” wrote study authors.

Tylenol Autism & ADHD Lawsuits

A growing number of Tylenol autism lawsuits are now being filed against CVS, Walgreens and manufacturers of acetaminophen-based drugs, alleging that use of the painkiller during pregnancy caused children to develop autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

In response to the growing litigation, a group of plaintiffs filed a motion (PDF) with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) on June 10, 2022, calling for complaints brought throughout the federal court system to be centralized before one judge for coordinated discovery and pretrial proceedings.

There are currently at least 19 Tylenol autism and ADHD lawsuit filed in U.S. District Courts nationwide, each raising similar allegations that pharmacies and drug manufacturers failed to warn about the risks associated with prenatal exposure to acetaminophen: the active ingredient in Tylenol.

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31 Comments

  • MarinaOctober 19, 2022 at 1:16 am

    I was pregnant in 2018 now my son has autism and being single parent

  • SueJune 22, 2022 at 3:22 pm

    Before everyone freaks out, it’s important to know there were a lot of flaws in this study that requires further investigation. Due to memory error on behalf of the mothers, the study only took into account something like “rarely used,” “occasionally used,” and “commonly used.” It also didn’t take into account the reasons why the medicine was being used. In fact, a 2012 study suggested that the re[Show More]Before everyone freaks out, it’s important to know there were a lot of flaws in this study that requires further investigation. Due to memory error on behalf of the mothers, the study only took into account something like “rarely used,” “occasionally used,” and “commonly used.” It also didn’t take into account the reasons why the medicine was being used. In fact, a 2012 study suggested that the reasons Tylenol is commonly used may contribute to a child’s chances of developing neurodivergencies. So basically, we need more information, but if you just want to squeeze out a few extra bucks, hey, I ain’t stopping y’all.

  • SharikaJune 21, 2022 at 4:07 am

    My daughter struggled with ADHD her whole life and we weren't aware of what was going on until she was diagnosed at 5. It's been a journey. She struggles in school academically. Anxiety and mild depression are also issues due to this condition. I took Tylenol for tooth pain and headache during pregnancy because the Dr said it was safe.

  • AngeliaJune 20, 2022 at 12:12 pm

    My 30 year old son has severe ADD and was in ECE throughout school. He has problems with employment and has received job placement through KY VOC. Rehab. My 27 year old we were told had Aspergers by his pediatrician, but he had no problems in school. My 22 year old had dysgraphia, which they labeled SLD in school and he received ECE services throughout school. NOW I hear that Tylenol can incre[Show More]My 30 year old son has severe ADD and was in ECE throughout school. He has problems with employment and has received job placement through KY VOC. Rehab. My 27 year old we were told had Aspergers by his pediatrician, but he had no problems in school. My 22 year old had dysgraphia, which they labeled SLD in school and he received ECE services throughout school. NOW I hear that Tylenol can increase these conditions! This is the first that I'm hearing about this, and I took Tylenol throughout my pregnancies for my back and pelvic pain and for migraines. My doctors recommended it, and told me it was safe! Neither I nor my husband were in ECE, so I believe this could be our answer as to why ALL of our children have these problems!

  • TammyJune 20, 2022 at 12:27 am

    My daughter was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 5 or 6 years old. She can speak but will likely never have an unassisted life. She just turned 18 this month. I was told by my doctors that Tylenol was safe to take during my pregnancy. Because of this I took Tylenol for pain over all other over the counter pain medications. I can't believe something recommended by doctors as a SAFE option c[Show More]My daughter was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 5 or 6 years old. She can speak but will likely never have an unassisted life. She just turned 18 this month. I was told by my doctors that Tylenol was safe to take during my pregnancy. Because of this I took Tylenol for pain over all other over the counter pain medications. I can't believe something recommended by doctors as a SAFE option could have caused my daughter to be autistic.

  • JaclynJune 16, 2022 at 11:15 pm

    I have autism and my mom took Tylenol often

  • KeyshaJune 16, 2022 at 3:56 pm

    I have a 17 year old daughter that has adhd and Tylenol was only thing the doctor approved for me to take for pain and migraines.

  • DJune 14, 2022 at 9:49 pm

    I just finished talking to an attorney on the case and I qualified for legal representation. My son finally was diagnosed, due the the prior doctor not wanting to say it was autism spectrum disorder. My son is 9 years old. I was told I could only take that and that it was safe. They also did not want to diagnose me with Pre-eclampsia but I had it. On top of my water breaking and not believing me [Show More]I just finished talking to an attorney on the case and I qualified for legal representation. My son finally was diagnosed, due the the prior doctor not wanting to say it was autism spectrum disorder. My son is 9 years old. I was told I could only take that and that it was safe. They also did not want to diagnose me with Pre-eclampsia but I had it. On top of my water breaking and not believing me for 2 weeks and causing complications before and during labor. Call a lawyer and get on them.

  • AngelaJune 10, 2022 at 4:34 pm

    I also was told I could only take Tylenol for pain and I took Tylenol PM to sleep during my pregnancy. My son is 16 now and was diagnosed with ASD and ADHD at age 5. The first 5 years of his life before being diagnosed we’re really rough. I can’t believe that something that was supposed to be safe to take while pregnant could have caused his issues. It makes me sad to think that I could have done [Show More]I also was told I could only take Tylenol for pain and I took Tylenol PM to sleep during my pregnancy. My son is 16 now and was diagnosed with ASD and ADHD at age 5. The first 5 years of his life before being diagnosed we’re really rough. I can’t believe that something that was supposed to be safe to take while pregnant could have caused his issues. It makes me sad to think that I could have done this to him, even though I didn’t know what was going to happen, we were all told by our doctors that it was safe to take Tylenol while we were pregnant.

  • MarreJune 10, 2022 at 1:35 pm

    Both of my sons have ADHD and had to take medication along with having to get an IEP. It's really unfair for those of us with adult children that suffer from this are excluded.

  • ChristyJune 9, 2022 at 2:17 am

    My youngest son was diagnosed with adhd when he was in 1st grade he is now 27 years old and he has communication issues and he can’t make eye contact and has severe anxiety disorder. I was told that I could only take Tylenol while pregnant so I did I had a lot of headaches. He now suffers with this disorder. Thanks

  • TanyaJune 5, 2022 at 9:25 pm

    The only medication my doctors said I could take was tylenol while pregnant. Baby tylenol and children's tylenol was also prescribed and recommended for my children. Two of my boys both have adhd, and one on the autism spectrum scale. My oldest son who is now 19 has had adhd since he was small and on the autism spectrum for about 4-5 yrs now diagnosed by his psychiatrist. He has failed all middle[Show More]The only medication my doctors said I could take was tylenol while pregnant. Baby tylenol and children's tylenol was also prescribed and recommended for my children. Two of my boys both have adhd, and one on the autism spectrum scale. My oldest son who is now 19 has had adhd since he was small and on the autism spectrum for about 4-5 yrs now diagnosed by his psychiatrist. He has failed all middle school and all of high school. He just failed his 2nd yr of 12th grade. He doesn't act his age, but more like he's 3-4 yrs younger. Why am I just hearing about this claim through Facebook, when the claim is overwith?

  • RebeccaJune 5, 2022 at 3:30 pm

    My son is 11 with an ASD diagnosis. Like almost every expectant mother, I was advised to take acetaminophen for pain and headaches and that it was the safest option. My question is how this will pan out, as a lawsuit/settlement. My son is covered on a Medicaid waiver (Katie Beckett), so any monies paid to him automatically are subject to review and use to cover medical services. We do not [Show More]My son is 11 with an ASD diagnosis. Like almost every expectant mother, I was advised to take acetaminophen for pain and headaches and that it was the safest option. My question is how this will pan out, as a lawsuit/settlement. My son is covered on a Medicaid waiver (Katie Beckett), so any monies paid to him automatically are subject to review and use to cover medical services. We do not have a special needs trust set up for him as he is what is referred to as high functioning.

  • CrystalJune 5, 2022 at 2:04 pm

    During my pregnancy I took tylenol for pain. My 19 yo son was diagnosed at age 3 and is nonverbal, severely affected.

  • RebeccaJune 4, 2022 at 4:13 pm

    I have a 14year old son that has ADHD and high functioning Autism. I was advised by my doctor to take Tylenol while pregnant.

  • LaShandaMay 24, 2022 at 9:46 am

    I have 2 kids one was diagnosed with Autism and the other with ADHD. I also was advised by doctor to take Tylenol for pain. One I took throughout whole pregnancy and the other part of pregnancy.

  • DawnMay 23, 2022 at 12:05 am

    I have an 11 year old son with autism, Tylenol was the only thing I was advised to take.

  • AnnaMay 20, 2022 at 9:09 pm

    My son was diagnosed around 5/6 yo. I was told I was only allowed to take Tylenol or generic. I worked a lot and was always on my feet. I took a lot while pregnant my entire pregnancy. He’s now 12 and finally off his ADHD medicine.

  • HollyMay 20, 2022 at 12:43 am

    My children are grown now so I probably won't qualify for a lawsuit unfortunately; but, I took Tylenol all through all 3 pregnancies (after being told to do so) for headaches/migraines and aches/pains. All 3 (ages 29, 26 & 19) have been diagnosed with ADHD. While I know they've suffered from it, this Mom sure has suffered as well!! I imagine 1 child with ADHD is no walk in the park. But, 3?!?! Th[Show More]My children are grown now so I probably won't qualify for a lawsuit unfortunately; but, I took Tylenol all through all 3 pregnancies (after being told to do so) for headaches/migraines and aches/pains. All 3 (ages 29, 26 & 19) have been diagnosed with ADHD. While I know they've suffered from it, this Mom sure has suffered as well!! I imagine 1 child with ADHD is no walk in the park. But, 3?!?! That sometimes resembled a walk straight through hell!

  • AmandaMay 19, 2022 at 7:27 pm

    I was given Tylenol by my doctor she said it was all I can take I was a high risk patient my son has autism and Adhd both. He has to have 24 hr care around the clock he doesn't comprehend and he's very hyperactive. My husband and I work with him daily and he does ABA he still needs speech therapy we've been on a waiting list for 4 yrs.

  • WhitneyMay 17, 2022 at 7:39 pm

    My 17 yr old has adhd and my 2 yr old son autism. I took Tylenol for headaches during both pregnancies as well as for discomfort with pain

  • EdithMay 17, 2022 at 12:45 pm

    I have the same story as the rest of these ladies. 3 little ones 5 year old and 3 year old B/G twins…that I strongly believe have ADHD and was only told to take Tylenol during my pregnancy for my aches and pains.

  • BMay 16, 2022 at 7:43 pm

    Unlike with our first born, whom was and is perfectly healthy, my wife suffered severe pains due to fibroids all through her pregnancy with our second child. My daughter has been diagnosed with Autism.

  • ShuntericaMay 16, 2022 at 1:14 pm

    I have three boys all of them have been diagnose with ADHD but one of them have ADHD/ODD they also take medication and attend community counseling service I was required to take Tylenol while I was pregnant and also with all three of my pregnancy

  • TiffanyMay 13, 2022 at 2:08 am

    The only pain medication they allowed me to take was Tylenol

  • javalynnMay 12, 2022 at 11:21 pm

    I have an 11 year old who was diagnosed with ADHD since he was 5 years old.

  • ChristineMay 12, 2022 at 7:14 pm

    Can I be added have a boy with major problems and one with minor only took tylenol while pregnant literally the only thing I took

  • DarrieMay 12, 2022 at 3:18 pm

    I am a migraine sufferer, and 2 of my 4 children were diagnosed with ADHD, one I have always suspected to be autistic and a 3rd who has not been diagnosed, but exhibits ADD sx's as well as a sensory integration or processing d/o. All but one are all adults now, but I took a lot of Tylenol during these pregnancies because that is the only thing they would allow me to take for my migraines.

  • HilaryMay 12, 2022 at 12:39 pm

    Add me to the list with child/children with 1 or more who took Tylenol.

  • TawanaMay 10, 2022 at 10:48 pm

    I have a 17 yr old daughter diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and two sons with adhd 19 and 14. I was told the only think I could take for headaches and pain while pregnant was tylenol.

  • RexeenMay 9, 2022 at 5:46 am

    My daughter took Tylenol when she was pregnant with my grandson. He adhd. We have to deal with him getting in to trouble at school. At home he just can't sit still.

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