Our firm recently started investigating Walmart, Walgreens, and other over-the-counter medication retailers for selling acetaminophen to pregnant people without disclosing potential side effects. Acetaminophen is sold under popular brand names such as Tylenol, Advil, Benadryl, and others. It’s one of the most commonly sold OTC drugs in the world.
People have been taking acetaminophen for decades, so what happened?
In 2021, researchers published a meta-analysis of 6 long-term health studies. A meta-analysis is how researchers combine and synthesize multiple studies asking the same question. In this case, the meta-analysis answered one question: is there a link between prenatal acetaminophen exposure and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism spectrum condition (ASC)?
The results of the meta-analysis answer with a fairly clear “yes.”
Some of the findings of the meta-analysis include:
- Taking acetaminophen while pregnant was associated with a 20% higher likelihood of children developing ADHD or autism.
- Boys showed a slightly stronger association between ADHD/ASC and prenatal acetaminophen exposure.
- Children taking acetaminophen after birth showed no association with ADHD/ASC.
- Roughly 14% to 56% of pregnancies exposed fetuses to acetaminophen.
- Male mice exposed to acetaminophen before birth showed altered spatial learning, memory, and dopamine processing (all associated with ADHD).
Why Is Tylenol Linked to Autism & ADHD?
While there hasn’t been research yet into how acetaminophen causes ADHD or autism, the 2021 study offered some possibilities. Researchers suggested that the mechanism at play might be caused by “stimulation of the endocannabinoid system,” among other potential causes. The endocannabinoid system “plays a critical role in learning and memory,” says Peter Greenspoon in Harvard Health.
In his article, Greenspoon explains that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a large network of densely packed receptors located throughout the brain and body. It monitors external stimuli and triggers the body’s response in a feedback cycle, regulating a number of critical bodily functions.
The ECS regulates operations such as:
- Emotional processing
- Temperature control
- Pain control
It’s notable that the dysfunction of each of these systems is a common symptom of either ADHD and autism.
What Mothers Can Do Now
Millions of women have taken acetaminophen while pregnant. It appears that the rising rate of ADHD/autism diagnoses is not simply a matter of “frequent diagnosis,” but an actual medical phenomena. As a result of the study, courts have allowed women who have taken acetaminophen while pregnant to file lawsuits against OTC drug sellers for failure to warn.
If you took acetaminophen while pregnant and your child developed ADHD or autism symptoms, you owe it to yourself to learn if you have a case—to learn if your child’s disability was a result of over-marketing a bestselling drug. To get answers, speak with Handler, Henning & Rosenberg LLC. Our Tylenol lawsuit attorneys are prepared to help you understand your options at no cost to you.
To get started, call (888) 498-3023 or message us through our site.