You'll find acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol, in medicine cabinets across the United States. It's not just Tylenol. The ubiquitous pharmaceutical is a common ingredient in OTC medications, from cough and cold medicines to allergy pills.
For decades, acetaminophen has been a go-to for physicians, and doctors worldwide consider it the safest pain and fever reducer for pregnant women. In fact, according to a 2019 study published in Jama Psychiatry, over 65% of women in the United States have used acetaminophen during pregnancy. 1
The US Food and Drug Administration lists acetaminophen in Pregnancy Category B. Pharmaceuticals put in this category have not shown a risk to fetal development. But there's a problem with these categorizations: a lack of research that includes pregnant women as subjects.
According to a 2021 New York Times Magazine article by Kim Tingley, "A 2014 review published in Frontiers in Pediatrics found that from the late 1960s through August 2013, just 1.3 percent of clinical trials focusing on how drugs move through the body included pregnant participants." 2
Tingley concludes that being excluded results in pregnant women who "must take such medications anyway, but without any data to say what dose is safest and most likely to work — a significant deficit, given that pregnancy causes the body to metabolize drugs differently." 2
Current studies have revealed that acetaminophen might not be as safe as providers thought. In fact, over the last ten years, evidence has mounted which suggests a link between acetaminophen exposure in utero and an increased risk for autism spectrum disorder.
A 2018 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that a fetus that comes into contact with acetaminophen has a 30% increased risk of developing early childhood neurological development disorders, including a 20% increased risk of developing autism spectrum disorder. 3
While the FDA has not released a statement about acetaminophen's safety, scientists and researchers encourage pregnant women to talk to their doctors before starting any medications.
The placenta acts as a barrier between the fetus and mother. This barrier is essential in the filtration and exchange of nutrients between a mother and a developing fetus.
Acetaminophen can cross the placental barrier and enter the developing child's bloodstream. In fact, a recent study found that acetaminophen resides in a fetus's system much longer than scientists initially thought.
Studies suggest that acetaminophen may interfere with fetal development and the production of endogenous hormones, specifically glutathione, which plays a significant role in developing signaling pathways in the brain.3
According to naturopathic pediatrician Erika Krumbeck, "Tylenol is actually somewhat famous for depleting glutathione." Krumbach further notes the numerous studies which show the relationship between glutathione levels and autism spectrum disorder. 4
The Mayo Clinic defines autism spectrum disorder as a condition "related to brain development" in early childhood. ASD has a range of symptoms that impact perception and socialization. 5
While a small number of children with autism spectrum disorder appear to hit typical milestones throughout their infancy, most children show signs of ASD in their first year of life.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most common symptoms of autism spectrum disorder fall into two main categories: challenges with socialization and restricted or repetitive behaviors and interests. 6
Other symptoms may include uncommon learning and attention styles and differences in mobility.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, restrictive and repetitive behaviors distinguish autism spectrum disorders from other conditions "defined by problems with social communication and interaction only." 6
Some of these behaviors may include
Most children with autism spectrum disorder will experience other typical co-occurrences. Some of these characteristics may include
ASD is a spectrum, and no two people are alike. ASD symptoms range from mild to severe. While there are common symptoms associated with autism spectrum disorder, not every child will experience the symptoms listed above.
Furthermore, while there is no cure for autism spectrum disorders, studies have shown promising results regarding early intervention.
Despite the mounting evidence showing the dangers of acetaminophen to a developing child in utero, manufacturers and medical professionals continue to promote it as a safe and effective product without disclosing the risks.
Powerful corporations who put profit over people must be held accountable. Families and children who suffer because of poor business ethics and policies deserve compensation.
If you took acetaminophen while pregnant and your child has been diagnosed with autism, you might be entitled to financial compensation.
Contact an AVA legal expert to see if you qualify to file a lawsuit.
Our experienced legal team promises to work tirelessly to defend your rights and fight to ensure you receive the financial compensation you deserve.