A new study from Auckland has suggested a possible link between taking paracetamol in pregnancy and the later development of ADHD.
This is consistent with findings in an earlier study in Denmark and has triggered a review of the status of Paracetamol in pregnancy by Medsafe, the government agency that licences medication for use in New Zealand.
The study was published in the PLOS One journal and is available free for public perusal.
Though mildly worrying, neither the study published this week, nor the previous study have sufficient power to determine whether this is a real effect or simply co-incidence.
All of the study population were identified as European ethnicity and there was a substantially higher than average proportion of university graduates, so comparing their results with the population at large is risky at best. The data has also been modified using fairly substantial statistical methods that are designed to spot trends but may also over-estimate effects as a result. Overall, there is a good chance that this is just a statistical anomaly, rather than a real effect. Pregnant women who have taken paracetamol have no reason for concern.
That having been said, we continue to recommend, as we always have that pregnant women should avoid medication (including alternative remedies) wherever possible.
Pregnant image: Frank DeKlelne