PainRelief.com Interview with:
Ann Z. Bauer ScD
Department of Work Environment
University of Massachusetts Lowell | UML
PainRelief.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings of the underlying studies?
Response: Acetaminophen (paracetamol, brand name Tylenol) is an over-the-counter medication used to relieve pain and reduce fever. It is an active ingredient in over 600 medications and used by more than 50% of pregnant women worldwide and up to 65% of pregnant women in the US.
Current guidance recommends acetaminophen as the pain reliever of choice during pregnancy, as other pain relievers such as ibuprofen and aspirin are contraindicated during pregnancy, particularly after 20 weeks.
In this consensus statement the authors reviewed the research on acetaminophen use during pregnancy from 1995 through 2020 and found a growing body of evidence that suggests prenatal acetaminophen exposure may alter fetal development increasing the risk of neurodevelopmental, reproductive and urogenital disorders. Importantly, this review identifies a convergence of evidence from the trifecta of research areas -human cohort studies, in vitro and animal models. This statement asking for precaution and more research was supported by a total of 91 clinicians and researchers (13 authors and 78 signatories) from around the world.
Research suggests acetaminophen is an endocrine disruptor meaning it interferes with the proper functioning of hormones, specifically it is an anti-androgen that can significantly reduce testosterone production. Acetaminophen exposure during pregnancy has been suggested to increase the risk of male undescended testicles (cryptorchidism) and shorter anogenital distance (ADG) a marker of sub-fertility. Additionally, research suggests increased risk of neurodevelopmental disorders primarily attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and related behavioral abnormalities, but also autism spectrum disorder (ASD), language delays, decreased IQ, and conduct disorders.
Many users do not consider acetaminophen to be a medication with potential side effects. There is high usage, in part, because of a perception that use is of negligible risk. However, because use is so common, if acetaminophen is responsible for even a small increase in individual risk it could contribute substantially to these disorders in the overall population.Continue reading