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Recent studies reveals that early childhood years play a vital role in personality development, establishing that right kind of parenting can help raise intelligent as well as outgoing kids.

A recent study shows that unchecked use of acetaminophen by the expectant mothers may become the basis of early onset behavioral problems in the kids.

The study was carried out in England and was led by Evie Stergiakouli, a lecturer in genetic epidemiology and statistical genetics at the University of Bristol in England. The results of the study were subsequently published in JAMA Pediatrics.

During the course of this study, the scientists evaluated the data of about 8,000 women included in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Expectant mothers were probed for acetaminophen use during the 18th and 32nd week of pregnancy. The kids of these women were evaluated at the age of 5 and later, at the age of 7 years for any behavioral problems.

Acetaminophen and Behavioral Problems in Children

It was established that the use of this drug during these two periods of pregnancy was linked with a higher risk of behavioral problems in kids, especially attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In contrast, the risk of emotional and behavioral problems was quite low in children who had not been exposed to acetaminophen during the prenatal period, especially during the second and third trimester.

A whopping 42% risk of having a kid with conduct problems was found in women using acetaminophen for pain relief during the 18th and 32nd week of pregnancy.

The risk of having children with hyperactivity disorders was found to be 31%. There was 29% greater risk of having emotional problems in kids. The risk of having “total difficulties”, including conduct problems, behavioral difficulties as well as social issues, was substantiated at 46%.  

The exact correlation between acetaminophen use during pregnancy and conduct and behavioral problems in the kids is yet to be discovered. The scientists have hypothesized that acetaminophen might be able to cross the placental barrier and enter the uterus, ultimately reaching the baby’s system and causing changes in the part of the brain responsible for the control of behavior and conduct.


The strongest link of behavioral problems was established with the maternal use of acetaminophen during the third trimester since the human brain reaches its full maturity level during the last trimester. Since the brain is still under development, it is susceptible to the harmful effects of acetaminophen.

The researchers, therefore, recommended that acetaminophen use during the last trimester of pregnancy should be closely monitored, avoiding the use of this pain killer as much as possible so as to prevent the risk of emotional, behavioral and conduct problems in the kids.

According to Zeyan Liew, a post-doctoral scholar of epidemiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, Fielding School of Public Health, this study is not the first one to suggest a possible relationship between the prenatal acetaminophen use and behavioral problems in children. This study has, however, helped back up the existing data and rule out plenty of other determinants of behavioral problems like genetics and family history. It has, certainly, helped in formulation of recommendations that the acetaminophen use should be tightly regulated in pregnant women.

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