Sunday, July 3, 2016
Paracetamol or acetaminophen consumption during pregnancy risk having an autistic child or kids with ADHD
Paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen or APAP, is a medication used to treat pain and fever. It is usually used for mild to moderate pain. According to a new study, taking paracetamol or acetaminophen during pregnancy is linked to autism and ADHD in children.
Their study also showed that exposure to paracetamol while pregnant raises the risk of autism spectrum diseases more in boys and it was associated with higher rates of ADHD in both male and female.
“The male brain may be more vulnerable to harmful influences during early life. Our differing gender results suggest that androgenic endocrine disruption, to which male brains could be more sensitive, may explain the association,” lead author Claudia Avella-Garcia, researcher at Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL), a Spanish research organization.
The study also suggests that children who are regularly exposed to the common medicine while in the womb were more likely to show signs of both conditions.
Persistently exposed children in particular showed poorer performance in attention, impulsivity and visual speed processing. The children who were exposed to the medicine were at higher risk of hyperactivity or impulsivity symptoms at age 5.
“It can also affect the development of the immune system, or be directly toxic to some foetuses that may not have the same capacity as an adult to metabolise this drug, or by creating oxidative stress,” noted Jordi Julvez, one of the researchers from CREAL.
"Paracetamol or acetaminophen relieves pain by acting on cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Since these receptors normally help determine how neurons mature and connect with one another, paracetamol could alter these important processes", researchers added.
The study used data from 2,644 mother-child pairs, 88% were evaluated when the child was 1 year old, and 79.9% were evaluated when they were 5 years old. About 43% of children evaluated at age of 1 and 41% assessed at age 5 were exposed to any Paracetamol at some point during the first 32 weeks of pregnancy.
The children were assessed again when they turn 5 years old and exposed children were at higher risk of hyperactivity or impulsivity symptoms. Persistently exposed children in particular showed poorer performance on a computerised test measuring inattention, impulsivity and visual speed processing, the study found. Boys also showed more symptoms of autism when persistently exposed to Paracetamol.
They also reiterated that further is needed to determine the precise dosage measurements, and that the risks versus benefits of Paracetamol use during pregnancy and early life should be assessed before treatment recommendations are made.
Official guidelines say Paracetamol should be taken only if necessary in pregnancy and for the shortest possible time.
While Professor Alan Cameron, of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, disagree with the research he said "Paracetamol is one of the most common medicines used to reduce a high temperature and ease pain, it is safe and is used routinely during all stages of pregnancy." The preliminary results from this study suggest that frequent Paracetamol use throughout pregnancy may impact attention function and slightly increase the risk of hyperactivity in the offspring at aged 5 years old.
"No effect on cognitive, motor or social development was identified." He added, "It is important to highlight from these results we cannot determine a direct link between Paracetamol usage and any neurodevelopmental problems. Future studies should take into account dosage as well as other possible contributory factors. However, women should not be alarmed by the results of this study and we recommend that pregnant women continue to follow current guidance and take the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time when necessary."
The research was published in the International Journal Of Epidemiology.