Women who take paracetamol during pregnancy are at risk of having children with behaviour problems, warn researchers.
The study, published in the journal Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology, examined whether there were any effects of taking paracetamol in mid-pregnancy and the behaviour of the offspring between the ages of six month and 11 years, with memory and IQ tested up until the age of 17.
“Our findings add to a series of results concerning evidence of the possible adverse effects of taking paracetamol during pregnancy such as issues with asthma or behaviour in the offspring,” said study lead author Jean Golding, Professor at the University of Bristol in the UK.
“It reinforces the advice that women should be cautious when taking medication during pregnancy and to seek medical advice where necessary,” Golding said.
Using questionnaire and school information from Bristol’s Children of the 90s study, researchers examined 14,000 children.
When they were seven months pregnant, 43 per cent of their mothers said they had taken paracetamol “sometimes” or more often during the previous three months.
The researchers examined results of the children’s memory, IQ and pre-school development tests, temperament and behaviour measures.
The study found an association between paracetamol intake and behavioural issues in children including hyperactivity and attention-deficit disorder.
However, this was no longer the case by the time the children reached the end of primary school.
According to the reseachers, boys appeared to be more susceptible than girls to the possible behavioural effects of the drug.
“It is important that our findings are tested in other studies – we were not in a position to show a causal link, rather an association between two outcomes,” Golding added.