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Acetaminophen Toxicity

Acetaminophen is not safe for pregnant women and in general not a great idea for any of us.

Last year a Spanish study of 2644 women and their new babies found an association between acetaminophen in pregnancy and increased rates of autism and attention deficit disorders in children of both genders, correlating with the frequency of exposure.

Also in 2016 a Duke-Harvard collaborative and observational study extended the risk period from pregnancy to include early childhood years: namely, that dose of Tylenol that many pediatricians routinely recommend before and after vaccination. The authors broke down the basic science and the ways the drug might affect brain health. Children who take acetaminophen have a dose-related incidence of brain disorders.

Just this month, a Journal of Pediatrics’ study  examined records of over 110,000 children in Norway and found a proportional association of ADHD in mothers taking Tylenol from the 98th day of pregnancy, and fathers taking it before conception. For the researchers the father’s use seems to break the possible link, but in my mind, pre-conception sperm are affected by everything dad puts in his mouth and the health of the sperm affect the health of the child! Don’t you think?!

The mechanism that might relate all of these findings is that acetaminophen is on the list of drugs that can harm mitochondria, the units inside each cell in the body that provides fuel for the cell to function. Brain cells are particularly rich in mitochondria. We depend on them through our lives, particularly in infancy when our brains are growing, and in later years, when our brain cells are declining and we need each one to function optimally.

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