Acetaminophen During Pregnancy Linked to Childhood Behavioral Problems Interview with:

Dr Evie Stergiakouli Lecturer in Genetic Epidemiology and Statistical Genetics MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol University of Bristol Bristol UK

Dr. Evie Stergiakouli

Dr Evie Stergiakouli
Lecturer in Genetic Epidemiology and Statistical Genetics
MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit
University of Bristol
Bristol UK What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Acetaminophen is considered safe to use during pregnancy. However, research suggests that acetaminophen use in pregnancy is associated with abnormal neurodevelopment. It is possible that this association might be confounded by unmeasured behavioural factors linked to acetaminophen use. We compared acetaminophen use during pregnancy to postnatal acetaminophen use and partner’s acetaminophen use. Only acetaminophen use during pregnancy has the potential to cause behavioural problems in the offspring. Any associations with postnatal acetaminophen use and partner’s acetaminophen use would be due to confounding. Behavioural problems in the offspring were only associated with acetaminophen use during pregnancy. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Children exposed to acetaminophen prenatally are at increased risk of multiple behavioral difficulties and the associations do not appear to be explained by unmeasured behavioral/social factors linked to acetaminophen use insofar as they are not observed for postnatal or partner’s acetaminophen use. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Although these results could have implications for public health advice, further studies are required to replicate the findings and to understand mechanisms. Large prospective studies and study designs that take into account unmeasured and familial confounding are required to inform public health advice on acetaminophen use in pregnancy. This study was performed in the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit, where researchers specialize in examining if observational associations are causal and we are planing to follow this findings up. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: Acetaminophen is still considered safe to use during pregnancy. There is a risk of not treating fever or pain during pregnancy and this should be carefully weighed against any potential harm to the offspring. For example, untreated fever during pregnancy can lead to premature labour. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Stergiakouli E, Thapar A, Davey Smith G. Association of Acetaminophen Use During Pregnancy With Behavioral Problems in Childhood: Evidence Against Confounding.JAMA Pediatr. Published online August 15, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.1775.

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on August 16, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD