Monday, December 18, 2017

Tylenol Use In Pregnancy Causes ADHD!

AcetaminophenNumerous studies over the last few years have implicated the most widely used drug in pregnancy, Tylenol (acetaminophen), with increasing the incidence of childhood diseases such as asthma and allergies. There was even on study linking cryptorchidism (undescended testes) to acetaminophen with the theory that it acted as a sex hormone binding protein displacer.

Now a new study out of the Journal of American Medical Association Pediatrics adds more fuel to the fire that the once thought “safe to take acetaminophen during pregnancy” mantra may not be the case.

In this study the investigators evaluated over 60,000 children born between 1996-2002, recording the acetaminophen use of the mothers during pregnancy and 6 months following delivery while also following the children for any diagnosis of ADHD or other behavioral disorders. What they found is astonishing, enough to have the primary author Dr. Olsen to say  “acetaminophen should no longer be considered a safe drug for use in pregnancy.”

Mothers who took acetaminophen during pregnancy had an increased risk of having a child diagnosed with ADHD nearly 2 times greater than those mothers who did not. It was also a dose dependent association meaning those mothers with the highest amount of acetaminophen usage had the highest increase in risk. First trimester use was also associated more strongly than with second or third trimester acetaminophen use.

These results are profound in that we have found yet another drug, thought to be safe and widely used, contributing to the ADHD epidemic.

So what’s the connection? Well there are a few scientists who theorize that acetaminophen displaces certain hormones from their target receptors. Others, myself included, believe it is much more simplistic.

Acetaminophen requires the body to attach a certain molecule to it, called glutathione, before it can be adequately excreted/eliminated from the body.  Every time acetaminophen is ingested the body lowers its glutathione reserves. Well there are numerous studies that implicate glutathione as a key antioxidant found low in children on the Autistic Spectrum, ADHD, Schizophrenia, Depression, Bi-Polar, Dyslexia, Asthma, Allergies – need I go on? In fact it’s one of the markers I routinely use when evaluating children with learning and behavioral disorders. Normalizing glutathione levels is the step I often hear from parents as the one thing that finally “corrected” their child’s issues. I do this through detoxification of toxins that use up the normal glutathione reserves, improving nutrition, supplementation with NAC, vitamin C, pycnogenol or glutathione itself and reducing inflammation to name just a few.

I even go as far as recommending to mothers, before having an additional child, to have their glutathione levels checked and if low to hold off on pregnancy until we can raise the levels to a normal range. This is based off a study done by Dr. Jill James in which she showed a 4 fold increase in the risk of having a child diagnosed Autistic if the Mother had documented low levels of glutathione before getting pregnant. Give me a call or email if you’d like to learn more about our Healthy Pregnancy Program and how you can have a healthier pregnancy while reducing the risk of childhood illnesses. 

To me this data is a game changer, another tool of information that we can  disseminate to enough mothers in hopes to reduce the incidence of ADHD and many other disorders affecting our children at an alarming rate. After all prevention is much easier than treatment.


JAMA Pediatr. Published online February 24, 2014 


6 Responses to “Tylenol Use In Pregnancy Causes ADHD!”
  1. sc7484 says:

    Have studies been done to explore a similar link between infant and child use of acetaminophen and ADHD? Or is the link only found with prenatal use?

    • Dr Joseph says:

      Yes it has.. here are some references if you would like to read them.

      (1) “Acetaminophen in pregnancy and Child’s ADHD risk” JAMA Pediatrics Feb 24 2014
      (2) “Evidence that Increased Acetaminophen use in Genetically Vulnerable Children Appears to be a Major Cause of the Epidemics of Autism, Attention Deficit with Hyperactivity, and Asthma” Journal of Restorative Medicine, 2013
      (3) “Acetaminophen (paracetamol) use, measles-mumps-rubella vaccination, and autistic disorder” Autism May 2008 12: 293-307
      (4) “Did acetaminophen provoke the autism epidemic?” Altern Med Rev. 2009;14(4):364–72
      (5) “Prenatal paracetamol exposure and child neurodevelopment: a sibling-controlled cohort study.” Int J Epidemiol. 2013
      (6) “Prenatal and perinatal analgesic exposure and autism: an ecologic link.” Environmental Health. May 9, 2013

  2. jenthatch says:

    I also wanted to ask about supplements for children. I have a 6-year-old who needs some supplements. Is it possible to get most supplements in liquid form for those who have not learned to swallow pills yet?

    • Dr Joseph says:

      absolutely! There are many great liquid supplements that taste good and are beneficial. You typically do pay a little more for the liquid sometimes. feel free to give my office a call (801-565-3755) or shoot us an email and I can give you a list of brand names I trust in liquid forms.

  3. mrsc says:

    So what do you recommend for a headache or any pain reliever during pregnancy as I’ve been told I cant use ibuprofen? Also what is your pregnancy program? I’m thinking of getting pregnant and would like more information.

    • Dr Joseph says:

      Real good question! There are so many options that are more safe and have a great track record for headaches in pregnancy. My favorite is the use of essential oil rubs such as lavender mixed with frankincense. Stretching on a consistent basis is also another option (I have a list of stretches to do nightly to prevent headaches). However we always want to know what the cause of your headache is, and I’d recommend a treatment option at that point. If you absolutely need to use acetaminophen then use it, I just then recommend adding 1000mg of vitamin C daily for 3-4 days after. This helps replenish glutathione levels. As to the healthy pregnancy program, its a 30 min visit with me where i Identify your risk factors and how to make changes to reduce them. It also includes blood work measuring glutathione levels and other markers known to increase the risk of certain childhood disorders. From there I will give you a treatment plan to follow. it also includes a bottle of my favorite prenatal with non constipating iron, an omega 3 oil, prenatal probiotic and vitamin C at the right dosages to help with keeping antioxidant levels high. call my office if you’d like to discuss the program in more details

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