By Dr. Mallika Marshall

BOSTON (CBS) — A warning for pregnant women about a popular over-the-counter pain medication. A new study from Johns Hopkins University finds taking acetaminophen late in pregnancy is associated with a higher risk of having a child with autism or ADHD.

In this study, researchers actually measured acetaminophen breakdown products in the umbilical cord blood, instead of just relying on memory.

They found that newborns exposed to the highest levels of acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, right before birth were about three times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD or autism than babies exposed to the least.

It’s unclear whether the timing of acetaminophen use or why women were taking the drug during pregnancy plays a role.

This doesn’t mean that pregnant women should avoid acetaminophen all together, but as with any medication, the best advice is to talk to your doctor and take it only when necessary and at the lowest dose possible.

Dr. Mallika Marshall


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