Autism and acetaminophen

posted 3 years ago in Babies
Post # 3
545 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

@Twiglets:  I personally would not regard this as a reputable journal. The author is the director of an institute that promotes what I’d consider to be “fringe” treatments for autism. And the article discusses the autim/vaccine link which has been de-bunked to a level I’m quite comfortable with. I’m vaccinating my kids and I’d give them acetaminophen when neccessary in the recommended dosage. 

It’s important to remember when reading articles that correlation does not equal causation. If you ARE worried about the medications you might give your child, be sure you understand dosages clearly and be sure you are using it appropriately. There IS a known risk of liver toxicity caused by excessive use of acetaminophen. But autism? Nope. The only good thing about the article is that it suggests what a solid, well-designed study would look like to examine any potential links.  

Post # 4
371 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2000


I refreshed the page before I posted and saw that @kenziemt:  has already pointed out precisely the issues I was going to raise. This is neither a journal with an established reputation, nor an author without a vested interest. 

Post # 5
1719 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

I agree that I wouldn’t take this article seriously.  But I do like that it basically says vaccines do not cause autism! (but it does say that autistic children might be more likely to have a bad reaction/fever/sickness to a vaccine, which I would totally buy, as my stepson definitely had that issue)

If you are worried, talk to your peditrician about children’s ibuprofen instead of acetaminophen, as I think they can switch to that at 6 months old.

Post # 8
7929 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: March 2012 - Pelican Grand Beach Resort

The scientific evidence is pointing more and more to autism being congenital, even though the signs might not appear to a lay person until toddlerhood. It’s highly unlikely anything you give your child after birth has any affect on autism.

I agree with PP about the credibility of this article.

Post # 9
545 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

@Twiglets:  The suggestion that children with autism are more likely to have severe vaccine reactions and thus be given Tylenol didn’t sit well with me.

Post # 10
1059 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2008 - A tiny town just outside of Glacier National Park

Long post ahead. This particular study I haven’t reviewed and already don’t like from the context in which it is framed. I’ll take a look and see what I think. 

HOWEVER, there is recent evidence that regular Tylenol use in pregnancy IS linked to behavioral spectrum disorders.

This is a recent article in reuters referencing an extensive study on mothers in Norway, which I reviewed with some skepticism and then found the study to be (to my surprise) pretty complete:

We read the full text of the study and I saved the PDF if anyone is interested. What follows is a more detailed analysis and critique than news media gives you…

One of the study’s strongest points is also a weak point: That it uses matched pairs of same-gender siblings and compares pregnancies both WITH and WITHOUT Tylenol use. Their sample size was all of Norway, but these limitations took them down to an “N” (sample size) of 805 for women who used Tylenol LESS than 28 days during one pregnancy (an average of ~4 days) and a sample size of only 134 women who used Tylenol MORE than 28 days during one pregnancy, with an average of 57 days of use. I’m sure I don’t need to say it, but that’s a very small sample size, and a much larger use of Tylenol.

Because of their really cool analysis between gender-matched siblings, they were still able to collect significant data even with a small sample size. I would say that it definitely raises questions.

For the women who used 28+ days of Tylenol in one pregnancy, that child was at about a 70% rate of increased risk of behavioral problems which could indicate Autism or other diagnoses. That means that their relative risk of behavioral problems increased from 4% to 6%-8%. There is a weak correlation between Tylenol use in the women who used it less than 28 days, but not nearly as much risk. The correlation is strongest for third trimester use.

The study does note that they did not track dosage in their self-reported use. That is to say, the women who used 28+ days of Tylenol reported that they used Tylenol X number of days, but did not report if they used 1 gram every 6 hours that day or one 1-tablet dose of 500mg that day. To me, dosage data would be really interesting because it would help indicate if there is a safe(r) dosage.

The study’s collection of developmental and behavioral difficulties is also self-reported. For certain things, this reporting is more reliable, like “when did child first walk unassisted.” For other things like behavioral issues, self-reporting is less reliable. Study data was also collected at 36 months, which is before an official diagnosis for Autism can typically be performed, so the study only shows a link to behaviors commonly associated with Autism and other developmental disorders, not a solid diagnostic result. It’s still statistically significant data though.

My DH, who is an ARNP, says his medical opinion would be that Tylenol should not be considered risk-free and should be used only when NECESSARY, not AS DESIRED. We can’t catch a break. :/

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