DENVER (CBS4) – A new study found that pregnant women who take a common, over-the-counter pain reliever run a higher risk of their children developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Acetaminophen is the most common pain reliever used by expectant mothers. Now the research makes them wonder if it’s okay to take it.

“Medication that we thought was fairly safe to use during pregnancy for pain relief actually might increase the chance of a child to later develop ADHD,” Dr. Beate Ritz with the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health said.

The researchers found children whose mothers took acetaminophen were 13 percent more likely to show ADHD-like behaviors, and 37 percent more likely to be diagnosed with hyperkinetic disorder, or more severe ADHD.

Scientists looked at data from a 17-year study that followed 64,000 mothers and children in Denmark. They found the link was strongest the longer a woman took acetaminophen into the second and third trimester.

“It is repeated use. It’s long-term use during pregnancy,” Ritz said.

Rebecca Barragan, 38, is due in August with her second child.

“I would probably steer clear from it while I’m pregnant, you know, and power through a headache or any bit of pain that I would have,” she said.

While researchers say more study is needed to confirm the findings, Barragan plans to talk to her doctor about using acetaminophen.

It was a large but preliminary new study. Experts say more research is needed.


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