(NaturalPath) According to a study by Oxford University Press (OUP) and published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, paracetamol (acetaminophen), which is used extensively during pregnancy, has a strong association with autism spectrum symptoms in boys and for both gender in relation to attention-related and hyperactivity symptoms. This is the first study of its kind to report an independent association between the use of this drug in pregnancy and autism spectrum symptoms in children. It is also the first to report different effects on boys and girls.

They found that in comparison to non-exposed children, there was a 30 percent increase in the risk of detriment to some attention functions, and an increase of two clinical symptoms of autism spectrum symptoms in boys.

The researchers recruited 2,644 pairs of mothers and their children. 88 percent were evaluated when the child was one year old (43 percent were exposed to paracetamol) while after five years, 79.9 percent were assessed (41 percent were exposed to paracetamol). When assessed at age five, exposed children were at higher risk of hyperactivity or impulsivity symptoms. Additionally, persistently exposed children in particular showed poorer performance on a computerized test measuring inattention, impulsivity and visual speed processing. Boys showed more autism spectrum symptoms when persistently exposed.

“Although we measured symptoms and not diagnoses, an increase in the number of symptoms that a child has, can affect him or her, even if they are not severe enough to warrant a clinical diagnosis of a neurodevelopmental disorder,” said one researcher.

Another researcher commented on why paracetamol could be detrimental for neurodevelopment by saying, “Paracetamol could be harmful to neurodevelopment for several reasons. First of all, it relieves pain by acting on cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Since these receptors normally help determine how neurons mature and connect with one another, paracetamol could alter these important processes. It can also affect the development of the immune system, or be directly toxic to some fetuses that may not have the same capacity as an adult to metabolize this drug, or by creating oxidative stress.”

So be careful about avoiding paracetamol (acetaminophen), which is the active ingredient in Tylenol, during pregnancy due to its effect on your child.

raziRazi Berry, Founder and Publisher of Naturopathic Doctor News & Review (ndnr.com) and NaturalPath (thenatpath.com), has spent the last decade as a natural medicine advocate and marketing whiz. She has galvanized and supported the naturopathic community, bringing a higher quality of healthcare to millions of North Americans through her publications. A self-proclaimed health-food junkie and mother of two; she loves all things nature, is obsessed with organic gardening, growing fruit trees (not easy in Phoenix), laughing until she snorts, and homeschooling. She is a little bit crunchy and yes, that is her real name.

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