Pregnant women who take paracetamol, one of the most common over-the-counter drugs, are more likely to have babies who develop asthma and behaviour problems in childhood, says a study published in Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology (September). Researchers from the University of Bristol (UK) studied 14,000 mothers in their seventh month of pregnancy in 1991-92, and followed up with a survey of their children aged six-17 several years later.
The researchers found a consistent link between children afflicted with asthma at age three and their mother popping paracetamol during pregnancy. Moreover they found an association between paracetamol intake during pregnancy and hyperactivity, attention problems and other difficult behaviour in young children.
“Our findings add to a series of results concerning evidence of possible adverse effects of taking paracetamol during pregnancy such as issues with asthma or behaviour in the offspring. It reinforces advice that women should be cautious when taking medication during pregnancy and to seek medical advice where necessary,” says lead author Dr. Jean Golding, emeritus professor at Bristol University.