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No Link Between Acetaminophen and Risk for Autism, Study Finds

An OB-GYN comments on a recent study which found no link between the use of acetaminophen during pregnancy and an increased risk for neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism.

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CLEVELAND - A recent study found taking acetaminophen during pregnancy does not increase the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders.

For those unfamiliar, the over-the-counter medication is commonly used for pain relief and fevers.

“This is something that I think is really important for moms and parents-to-be. There are not a lot of options out there right now for women just because this hasn’t been very well studied,” said Catherine Caponero, MD, obstetrician-gynecologist for Cleveland Clinic. “We want to make sure that we are providing mothers and parents-to-be with options to control pain and fever during pregnancy because these conditions truly can increase the risk of things like autism and other intellectual disabilities.”

Dr. Caponero said acetaminophen is actually one of the few medications pregnant women can take if they’re experiencing pain or a fever.

However, some choose not to for fear it could somehow harm the baby.

This study debunks those claims.

Researchers looked at thousands of siblings and found no difference whether their mom took acetaminophen with one child but not the other while pregnant.

As a result, they determined there to be no link between the medication and an increased risk for neurodevelopmental disorders, like autism or ADHD.

“The data is very clear that we can provide these medications, and that these are safe medications for moms. They should not feel guilt or shame around taking these medications,” said Dr. Caponero.

She advises women who are pregnant and unsure of which medications to take or how much to consult with their physician.

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Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. Cleveland Clinic is consistently recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for its expertise and care. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 81,000 employees worldwide are more than 5,743 salaried physicians and researchers, and 20,160 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,690-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 23 hospitals, 276 outpatient facilities, including locations in northeast Ohio; Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2023, there were 13.7 million outpatient encounters, 323,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 301,000 surgeries and procedures throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 132 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/CleClinicNews. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.

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