How Does Acetaminophen Increase the Risk of Autism and ADHD?
Undisturbed development of the human brain while a baby is in the uterus
is vital to the health and wellness of the child’s development.
The human brain is vulnerable and extremely sensitive in utero, which
is why exposure to certain chemicals has been found to cause permanent
brain injury even at low exposure levels. Once ingested by the mother,
the acetaminophen crosses the placenta and blood-brain barrier causing
damage to the fetus.
For decades, scientific and epidemiological research has shown taking acetaminophen
while pregnant can alter fetal development, significantly increasing the
risks of neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism spectrum disorder
and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
Acetaminophen Autism and ADHD Studies
Over the past decade, the growing body of scientific studies are pointing
more and more to the link between Tylenol and autism. More than two dozen
studies have identified positive associations between acetaminophen exposure
during pregnancy and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or ADHD. Of these,
16 specifically investigated the dose-response and identified a dose-response
This means that increased duration and amount of exposure to Tylenol/acetaminophen
during pregnancy was associated with increased risk.
One of the most significant Tylenol autism studies was published in the
leading scientific journal
JAMA Psychiatry in 2020. According to the study, umbilical cord “biomarkers of fetal exposure
to acetaminophen were associated with significantly increased risk of
childhood ADHD and ASD in a dose-response fashion.”
The study’s authors noted that “[s]ensitivity analyses . .
. and subgroup analyses found consistent associations between acetaminophen
and ADHD and acetaminophen and ASD across strata of potential confounders,
including maternal indication, substance use, preterm birth, and child
age and sex.” The study concluded “previous studies regarding
the association between prenatal and perinatal acetaminophen exposure
and childhood neurodevelopmental risk and warrant additional investigations.”
The medical and scientific community continues to study and be concerned
about the Tylenol autism link.
In another major study published in the
June 2021 edition of the European Journal of Epidemiology, researchers examined health data from over 73,000 mother-child pairs
across Europe. The study found that unborn children exposed to acetaminophen were
19% more likely to show signs of autism and 21% more likely to show signs
of ADHD compared to non-exposed children.
In a 2020 study published in
JAMA Pediatrics, researchers concluded that doctors should re-evaluate the safety of acetaminophen
for pregnant women after finding that prenatal exposure was associated
with increased odds of ADHD.
In 2018, the
American Journal of Epidemiology published a systematic review, meta-analysis, and meta-regression analysis
that assessed the association between exposure to acetaminophen during
pregnancy and the risk for neurodevelopmental disorders. The study utilized
seven eligible retrospective cohorts that included 132,738 mother-child
pairs, with follow-up periods ranging from 3 to 11 years. The study found
acetaminophen exposure during pregnancy is associated with a 20%–30%
increased risk for neurodevelopmental disorders. Specifically, a 30% increased
risk of ADHD and 20% increased risk of ASD.
Is Tylenol Acetaminophen?
Paracetamol (N-acetyl-p-aminophenol or APAP), also known as acetaminophen, is the
active ingredient in hundreds of medications used to relieve pain and
reduce fever. Acetaminophen is the most common drug ingredient in the U.S.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has long held that Tylenol during pregnancy is safe when used as directed.
However, increasing research suggests that Tylenol during pregnancy may
alter fetal development, which can increase the risks of neurodevelopmental
disorders, including autism and ADHD.
Common Acetaminophen Drugs
- Alka-Seltzer Plus
Can You Take Tylenol While Pregnant?
For many years, doctors advised pregnant women to take Tylenol or generic
acetaminophen to relieve pain. Tylenol and its generic equivalents have
long been advertised as the safest, and the only appropriate, over the
counter (OTC) pain relief drug on the market for pregnant women. Between
40 and 65% of women use acetaminophen during pregnancy.
But medical research shows that taking Tylenol during pregnancy comes with risk.
The peer-reviewed medical journal Nature Reviews Endocrinology
published a Consensus Statement in 2021 that warned mothers of the potential risks associated with taking acetaminophen
drugs during pregnancy:
“[w]e believe the combined weight of animal and human scientific
evidence is strong enough for pregnant women to be cautioned by health
professionals against its indiscriminate use, both as a single ingredient
and in combination with other medications. We recommend that APAP should
be used by pregnant women cautiously at the lowest effective dose for
the shortest possible time. Long-term or high-dose use should be limited
to indications as advised by a health professional. Packaging should include
warning labels including these recommendations. Given the high prevalence
of APAP use by pregnant women, the public health implications of use reduction
might be substantial.”
More and more children in the U.S. have cognitive, behavioral, or learning
impairments. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
conducted a study that found 17% of children between the ages of three and 17 had a developmental
disability, and importantly, that this percentage increased over the two
time periods compared, 2009–2011 and 2015–2017.
Numerous studies conducted over the last few years suggest that acetaminophen
during pregnancy may contribute to reproductive and neurobehavioral disorders.
Tylenol during pregnancy may increase the risk of:
- Developmental disabilities
- Behavioral difficulties
- Delayed language abilities
- Lowered IQ
- Other neurodevelopmental issues
Can a Pregnant Woman Take Excedrin?
Pregnant women who suffer from migraine headaches often ask if Excedrin
is safe during pregnancy. The active ingredients in Excedrin are acetaminophen,
aspirin, and caffeine. The quick answer is that Excedrin should be treated
like Tylenol/acetaminophen, which studies have shown comes with an increased
risk of autism and ADHD when taken during pregnancy.
Tylenol and Autism Class Action Lawsuit
In 2022, there was a sharp uptick in the amount of Tylenol autism lawsuits
filed throughout the country. As of August 2022, there are at least 20
Tylenol lawsuits in six states that make similar allegations—prenatal
use of Tylenol or acetaminophen drugs caused children to develop autism
or ADHD. Attorneys representing plaintiffs in these cases have filed a
motion with the federal
Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) to consolidate the cases into a new Tylenol class action multidistrict
litigation. If the federal panel grants the MDL, we anticipate many thousands
of new cases will be filed in the coming years.
Is This a Johnson & Johnson Tylenol Lawsuit?
Currently, Johnson & Johnson is not named in the Tylenol autism suits.
However, that could change as the litigation progresses. The defendants
named in these cases are retailers that sell generic brands of Tylenol.
Thus far, the defendants include:
- Rite Aid
What Will the Tylenol Autism Lawsuit Payout Be?
It is completely understandable for clients to ask how much their case
is worth. Answering this question, however, is difficult for numerous
reasons. Generally speaking, the value of a Tylenol ADHD or autism case
will be determined by a person’s claims for damages. Damages in
this litigation are calculated based on (among other things):
- Expenses for health care and therapy related to your child’s medical
condition, both in the past and in the future
- Loss of earnings if your child’s diagnosis forced you to stop work
to take care of them.
- Loss of earning capacity of the child who cannot work due to the diagnosis
or has limited ability due to the condition than would otherwise have.
- The mental anguish, stress, pain, and suffering caused to the child and family.
- Punitive damages against the defendants may also be possible. Punitive
damages are exemplary damages awarded at the court's discretion when a
defendant’s actions are particularly harmful. While each case is
different, punitive damages can be worth several times more than the compensatory damages.
As the parent of a child diagnosed with autism or ADHD (or both), you already
know how expensive health care services like occupational therapy and
speech therapy can be. For some, these services are not covered by their
health care insurance policy. In a lot of cases, these therapy and treatment
are needed for many years.
Our attorneys intend to hold the defendants accountable so parents are
not forced to shoulder this financial burden alone and without resources.
Pursuing a Tylenol claim is your way of pursuing justice and compensation
for these and other expenses.
Award-Winning Attorneys Pursuing Tylenol Lawsuit Compensation for American Families
If you used Tylenol or pain relief medications like NyQuil, Excedrin, or
other medications containing acetaminophen during pregnancy and your child
was diagnosed with autism or ADHD, our firm is interested in pursuing
justice and maximum compensation on your behalf. The scientific evidence
linking acetaminophen during pregnancy and neurodevelopmental disorders
Our legal team strongly believes that once the evidence and body of research
is presented to juries, we could see significant verdicts and settlements
in the future. We are accepting Tylenol autism claims on a contingent
fee basis, which means that we front the cost of the litigation and only
collect attorney fees and cost reimbursement if we are successful in getting
you compensation at trial or through a settlement.
If you would like our team to review your Tylenol autism lawsuit,
contact us today for a free and confidential case evaluation.