Paracetamol and pregnancy: what’s the fuss?

A great message about the reporting of research in the media. Beware the unwary and salute the responsible science journalist.

drjustincoleman

1. pregnancy Could paracetamol be linked to ADHD? Photo by tipstimes.com

Yesterday’s study linking paracetamol use during pregnancy with behavioural problems in childhood has hit news headlines around the world, and this morning ranked first among Australian health news stories, according to Google trends.

[Clarification: paracetamol brands include Panadol and Tylenol. In the US, the chemical name for the drug is acetaminophen.]

What is the fuss about?

A study published yesterday in JAMA Paediatrics analysed data from 7796 mothers from Bristol, England, who were part of a prospective birth cohort study in 1991-2. The self-recorded data included maternal use of paracetamol during pregnancy (at 18 and 32 weeks) and five years later, and the presence of behavioural issues when the child was seven years old.

The study found an association between antenatal paracetamol use at 32 weeks gestation and behavioural problems for the 7-year-old children, as measured by a high scores on a conduct…

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