Acetaminophen, or paracetamol (APAP), is a non-opioid over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever (analgesic) and fever reducer (antipyretic) standard to many households. Anyone who has ever experienced mild or moderate muscle aches, headaches, osteoarthritis, toothache, menstrual cramps, or flu has probably reached for a bottle of Tylenol, the most recognized acetaminophen. The medication produces a cooling effect on the body and modifies the body’s pain perception. It can be a beneficial drug, especially for those who are unable to take other types of pain relievers, such as Ibuprofen. The question is whether it is safe for use during pregnancy.
Medications Containing Acetaminophen can be Found at Your Local Pharmacy
Tylenol is standard, but other noted brand-name OTC medications contain acetaminophen, such as NyQuil, DayQuil, Excedrin, Robitussin, Benadryl, and Mucinex. Cold medicines aim to lessen cold, cough, and flu symptoms, so they contain pain and fever-reducing ingredients, among other components. However, acetaminophen is in many other products. In fact, a recent study published in Nature Reviews Endocrinology reports the ingredient is in over 600 prescription and OTC medications.
Conditions in Children that Have Been Linked to Acetaminophen-Based Product Use by Pregnant Women
Confirming prior studies, the consensus study reports a connection between acetaminophen use during pregnancy and neurodevelopmental, reproductive, and urogenital problems in children born to patients who took APAP medications during pregnancy. Previously, the drug’s use was linked to sleeplessness in three-year-olds, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Asperger’s Syndrome, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Kanner’s Syndrome, and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD), among other neurological and developmental disorders.
ADHD, ASD, Asperger’s Syndrome, Kanner’s Syndrome, and CDD are conditions with varying degrees of behavior issues, including difficulties paying attention, poor impulse control, hypersensitivity to sensory stimuli, and deficiencies in communication, learning, and social interaction. The conditions range from low to high functioning, which means children with these conditions require additional resources in school and at home to function in daily life. They may need speech, occupational, and physical therapies to help them learn, communicate, and adapt to their surroundings.
While some in the medical community contend there is no confirmed link between APAP and autism and autism-related conditions, the September 2021 Nature Review Endocrinology study found acetaminophen interfered with the healthy chemical and hormonal distribution in fetuses. It interrupted normal development of reproductive and other organs and caused neurological problems, leading to attention disorders and infertility in offspring.
Specifically, those who took medications with the drug increased the risk of developmental disorders in fetuses, such as undescended testicles and cryptorchidism (shortened space between anus and penis), which later caused reproduction problems in males. In females, it led to early puberty and language delay, in addition to neurological and behavioral disorders, such as ADHD, ASD, and cognitive delays. Outcomes correlated to when and how long the drug was in use.
A Cautious Approach to Acetaminophen Products During Pregnancy
Although prior studies link acetaminophen to fetal development problems, a recent study conducted by 100 medical and science professionals resulted in a consensus statement advocating a closer look into and a more cautious approach to pregnancy and acetaminophen. A collaboration of obstetricians, neurologists, pediatricians, and scientists from all over the world reviewed medical literature for the last 25 years and animal studies to recommend pregnant patients refrain from taking acetaminophen during pregnancy, especially during the early months, unless medically necessary and only after consulting with a doctor. They advocate taking the smallest dose possible for the shortest duration.
Since other pain relievers, such as Ibuprofen and other NSAIDS, are not recommended for pregnant women, Tylenol and other paracetamols have helped pregnant women find relief. Despite the consensus study findings suggesting curtailing the use of acetaminophen during pregnancy, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists went on record to state that the study does not differ from current recommendations by the FDA and existing healthcare professional recommendations to use APAP products under the direction of a physician carefully.
Possible Forms of Malpractice with Acetaminophen Use During Pregnancy
With 65% of pregnant women using APAP medications, the likelihood of further studies directly connecting acetaminophen to autism spectrum-related conditions and reproductive problems may be forthcoming. However, now, health providers treating pregnant patients must inform patients about the possible connection between using the drug in the early stages of pregnancy when a fetus is developing and potential neurological and reproductive disorders.
For example, the failure to inform a pregnant patient with the flu in the early stages of pregnancy that Tylenol is acceptable to use but in limited doses for a short time and only as necessary may be considered malpractice. A fully informed patient is less likely to take too much of the pain reliever when they know the potential effects on a growing fetus. They may even forego taking it altogether to improve the chances their developing fetus is uninjured.
Thus, when your child is born with neurological and physiological dysfunctions after your abundant use of Tylenol, it is important to consult with a medical malpractice attorney to ask whether your doctor may have negligently failed to inform you of the dangers of too much of the pain reliever too soon in the pregnancy.
An Experienced Attorney can Determine if You Have a Claim for Acetaminophen-Related Malpractice in NJ
Our team of medical malpractice attorneys handle numerous birth-related malpractice cases and we work hard to stay aware of the most prevalent studies and practices to safeguard pregnant patients. We will listen to your story, noting the pertinent facts and areas to explore in developing a malpractice case. Throughout the process, our lawyers investigate the facts, review medical records, conduct research, and hire experts to review the health records of you and your child. Once we establish that you have a viable claim, we can zealously pursue monetary compensation for you and your child. We may successfully prove that a negligent medical professional who caused your family harm should be held responsible to pay you for past and future costs of medical care, treatments, therapies, and resources your child will need to live an optimal life given their disabilities. Beyond financial reimbursement, you may qualify for non-economic losses due to your child’s injuries, such as the pain and suffering your child experiences due to their condition and your suffering from the pain and guilt of your child’s condition.
Contact our birth and pregnancy malpractice legal team at 866-708-8617 to talk to an attorney and find out whether your healthcare provider negligently caused your child and family injuries and can be held liable for medical malpractice. We can assist you anytime in a free consultation.