WEDNESDAY, Oct. 5, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Exposure to acetaminophen during pregnancy is associated with attention and sleep problems in offspring at age 3 years, according to a study published online Sept. 28 in PLOS ONE.

Kristin K. Sznajder, Ph.D., M.P.H., from Pennsylvania State University in Hershey, and colleagues examined associations between prenatal acetaminophen exposure and offspring neurobehavioral problems at the age of 3 years. The analysis included 2,423 mother-child pairs participating in the First Baby Study.

The researchers found that 41.7 percent of women reported using acetaminophen during pregnancy. There was a significant association between exposure to acetaminophen during pregnancy and higher scores on three of the seven Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) syndrome scales, including withdrawn, sleep problems, and attention problems. There was a significant association observed between all seven of the CBCL syndrome scales and prenatal stress. Only sleep problems (adjusted odds ratio, 1.23) and attention problems (adjusted odds ratio, 1.21) remained significantly higher in children exposed to acetaminophen when adjusting for prenatal stress and other confounders.

“Because use of acetaminophen during pregnancy is common, these results are of public health concern and suggest caution in the use of medications containing acetaminophen during pregnancy,” the authors write.

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