School Climate & Safety Report Roundup

Pain Relievers and ADHD

By Christina A. Samuels — March 04, 2014 1 min read

New research has found that children of women who took pain relievers containing acetaminophen during pregnancy were at a higher risk of developing attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or hyperkinetic disorder, which is similar to ADHD but characterized by more severe impairments.

The results were released last week in the online edition of JAMA Pediatrics, a publication of the American Medical Association.

The study of more than 64,000 Danish children found that those whose mothers used acetaminophen, found in common over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol or Excedrin, were 37 percent more likely to have a medical diagnosis of hyperkinetic disorder around age 5. They were also 13 percent more likely to be exhibiting ADHD-like symptoms by age 7, and 29 percent more likely to be taking ADHD medications.

Even so, the risk of a child having ADHD-like symptoms by age 7 was relatively small for all children. The study found that 2.5 percent of children had such symptoms if their mothers never reported taking the drug; the rate went up to 3.4 percent if their mothers reported taking it at least once during pregnancy.

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A version of this article appeared in the March 05, 2014 edition of Education Week as Pain Relievers and ADHD

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