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We don't eat cold cuts. We don't smoke. We avoid soft cheeses. We exercise, but not too hard. We sleep a lot but not on our backs. We avoid medication, but take acetaminophen (Tylenol) if we're in a lot of pain, Tylenol PM if we can't sleep. At least, this was the advice I received from my doctors during my two pregnancies. But a new study out of Denmark might leave me with no options for treating pain during pregnancy, as it has linked acetaminophen use during pregnancy with "ADHD-like behaviors."
Pregnancy is by far one of the most painful times in a woman's life. How often do we turn to painkillers just to make it through another day of swollen feet and back aches? Doctors routinely prescribe Tylenol and Tylenol PM to pregnant women experiencing discomfort, but that may not last for much longer. A study was published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics and took into account numbers from more than 64,000 children enrolled in the Danish National Birth Cohort Study, which spanned six years.
According to CNN, "Mothers in the cohort study reported on their children's behavior, and the research looked at databases to determine how many prescriptions for ADHD drugs were written and how many children received a diagnosis of a severe form of ADHD called Hyperkinetic Disorder, or HKD."
Another editorial published in that same journal notes that this study uncovers interesting observations but does not necessarily find that acetaminophen, or Tylenol, is actually causing ADHD. Correlation may not equal cause. The study authors agree that the results do not prove a cause-and-effect relationship. But the data did suggest that women who take acetaminophen for longer periods later in pregnancy are at higher risk. In fact, expectant mothers who reported taking acetaminophen for 20 weeks or more gave birth to children who had a 50 percent greater risk for being prescribed medication for ADHD later. This study tallied the number of weeks the mother took any amount of acetaminophen, but it did not take into account the dosage.
Is this one more thing for pregnant women to feel guilty about or afraid of? No. It is something to be aware of, but may not mean anything at all.
This study really only confirms for us what we already know: It's best to keep it natural when you're with child. Do your best to avoid hormones, artificial flavoring and color, avoid medications... Pregnancy is a time to allow your body (and baby) a bit of a detox from all the junk we routinely take in. On the other hand, also avoid stressing out over being perfect... you can't. And stress itself is harmful too. So do your best to tune in to your body and find nourishment in natural ways whenever possible, but most importantly, enjoy the time.