A recent study from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign suggests that pregnant women might want to reconsider using Tylenol. The researchers discovered that acetaminophen, which is widely used to reduce fevers and relieve pain, might be linked to language development delays in children when taken during pregnancy.
More commonly recognized under the brand name Tylenol, acetaminophen is often considered the most secure option for pain relief during pregnancy. It is currently used by 50% to 65% of women in both North America and Europe.
But, this latest research has expanded on earlier studies linking the use of acetaminophen during pregnancy to diminished communication skills in children. Most notably, this new study utilized more comprehensive methods for assessing language development.
“The previous studies had only asked pregnant people at most once a trimester about their acetaminophen use,” detailed Megan Woodbury, one of the study’s authors.
“But with IKIDS, we talked to our participants every four to six weeks during pregnancy and then within 24 hours of the kid’s birth, so we had six time points during pregnancy.”
So, since the researchers maintained regular contact with the participants during their pregnancy and right after giving birth, a very accurate record of acetaminophen usage was created.
The team concentrated on evaluating the language development of children using the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories at the ages of 2 and 3. This tool helped assess the children’s vocabulary, the complexity of their language, and the length of their spoken phrases.
The research revealed that heightened use of acetaminophen, especially in the third trimester, was associated with reduced vocabulary scores and briefer average sentence lengths among 2-year-old kids. Then, by the age of three, more frequent use of the drug during the third trimester seemed to lead parents to view their children’s language skills as below average compared to their peers– particularly among boys.
Moreover, a significant finding was that every instance of acetaminophen use in the third trimester correlated with a reduction of nearly two words in the vocabulary of kids at 2 years old.