Use of Tylenol in Pregnancy Has Been Linked to ADHD in Children

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A recent Danish research study has found a correlation between a mother’s acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) usage during pregnancy and an increased risk of developing ADHD in her child. Dr. J G Moellendorf, DC, ND, LCP examines this study and possible alternatives for maternal pain control.

It's hard to tell women in severe pain to not take any painkillers, but I wouldn't recommend any repeated use of acetaminophen...and we can't recommend the other painkillers because they have more side effects."

Because of possible side-effects, doctors do not recommend aspirin, naproxen, or ibuprofen during pregnancy or while nursing. Sturgeon Bay Chiropractor and Naturopath Dr. J G Moellendorf, DC, ND, LCP notes that consequently many mothers use acetaminophen for their pains, soreness, headaches, or fever while pregnant. Known as a hormone disruptor and to cause liver damage, what effects may acetaminophen have on fetal brain development?

A group of researchers led by Zeyan Liew analyzed 64,322 babies and their mothers who were enrolled in the Danish National Birth Cohort between 1996 and 2002. Their purpose was to investigate complications of pregnancy and diseases in children as a result of the side effects of medications and infections. The mother’s use of acetaminophen through pregnancy and the first 6 months after childbirth was followed. Acetaminophen usage was reported by over half of all mothers during pregnancy.

Of those children whose mothers had used acetaminophen, the children had a 37% increased risk of developing hyperkinetic disorder (an especially severe form of ADHD), they were 29% more likely to be on medication for ADHD, or 13% more likely to have behaviors like ADHD by the age of 7 years. The strongest associations to these risks were seen when the mother used acetaminophen for longer than 6 weeks, and was especially notable with increases over 50% when taken for more than 20 weeks.

The researchers questioned whether the mother’s health issues such as inflammation, infection, mental health problems, or other confounders that caused the mother to use acetaminophen may have been the cause of the increase in ADHD. When adjustments were made for these causes, there were no changes in the incidence of ADHD. The study was published in February 2014 in the online edition of JAMA Pediatrics titled “Acetaminophen Use during Pregnancy, Behavioral Problems, and Hyperkinetic Disorders”.

The researchers concluded, “It is possible that acetaminophen may interrupt brain development. It should no longer be considered a safe drug for use in pregnancy.” Commenting on the study, co-researcher Beate Ritz, M.D., UCLA Fielding School of Public Health stated: "If I as a woman were pregnant, I would do everything I could to avoid any of these medications. It's hard to tell women in severe pain to not take any painkillers, but I wouldn't recommend any repeated use of acetaminophen without seeing a doctor, and we can't recommend the other painkillers because they have more side effects."

Rather than using drugs with their side-effects, many women have found relief through Chiropractic care for their aches and pains during pregnancy. The October 2012 issue of Chiropractic & Manual Therapies published a paper titled: “The Treatment Experience of Patients with Low Back Pain during Pregnancy and Their Chiropractors: a Qualitative Study”. Researchers Sadr, Pourkiani-Allah-Abad, and Stuber noted, “All of the interviewed patients reported that they found chiropractic treatment to be effective and that it helped relieve them of their LBP (low back pain) and associated symptoms. Patients reported that chiropractic treatment had improved their daily living activities and their mobility, while it decreased their overall pain and discomfort.” Chiropractic care is a safe first line treatment for lower back pain during pregnancy.

For mild pain conditions, the use of homeopathic remedies containing arnica, passiflora (passion flower), or valerian may also be considered.

Using the latest research findings, Moellendorf Chiropractic Office, Ltd. uses a comprehensive package of Chiropractic care, decompression traction therapy, active therapeutic movement training, cold laser therapy, and nutrition for the natural treatment of neurological conditions, neck and back pain, and other health conditions without drugs or surgery. Additional information about Chiropractic, Naturopathy, and other forms of natural health care has been provided by Moellendorf Chiropractic Office, Ltd. at

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About: Dr. J G Moellendorf, DC, ND, LCP
Dr. J G Moellendorf, DC, ND, LCP attended the University of Wisconsin—Superior where he majored in Physics and Mathematics, with a minor in art photography. While attending the University of Minnesota—Minneapolis, he assisted in research on ribosomal proteins. Completing his Chiropractic studies at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa, he graduated Cum Laude (with high honors) in 1983. He started Moellendorf Chiropractic Office, Ltd. in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in 1983. In 1996, Dr. Moellendorf was awarded his Doctorate in Naturopathy from Trinity School of Natural Health. In 2001, he received Chiropractic’s most prestigious award, the honorary Legion of Chiropractic Philosophers degree, for his thesis “The Workings of Innate Intelligence in Obsessive/Compulsive and Addictive Behaviors.” This paper was chosen for publishing in the book Philosophic Contemplations vol. 2 in 2002. In June of 2012, Dr. Moellendorf authored his first book titled Healthcare’s Best Kept Secret. Dr. Moellendorf can be contacted by phone (920) 493-2126, fax (920) 743-1145, email jgmoellendorf(at)itol(dot)com, his website at, or send a carrier pigeon to 44.84722N and 87.36416W.

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