Credit Paul Sakuma/Associated Press
Taking Tylenol (acetaminophen) during pregnancy is associated with a slight increase in the risk for asthma in offspring, a new study has found.
Norwegian researchers used health data on 95,200 pregnant mothers between 1999 and 2008, and followed 53,169 of their children after birth. The mothers completed questionnaires on medication use for themselves and their children.
After controlling for various health and behavioral characteristics, they found that prenatal exposure to Tylenol was associated with a 13 percent increased risk for asthma at age 3. The more Tylenol the mother had taken during pregnancy, the higher the risk.
The study, in the International Journal of Epidemiology, was designed to minimize the possibility that the increased risk was caused by an illness rather than by the Tylenol itself. The association persisted whether the mother took the medicine for pain, fever, flu or any other respiratory tract infection.
“Based on this modest increased risk, there is no need to be concerned if a child has been exposed,” said the lead author, Maria C. Magnus, of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. “It might be possible to limit the amount of Tylenol used, but mothers should not be afraid to use it when necessary.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 65 percent of pregnant women use Tylenol.