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Kelly Kasper, MD

Is Acetaminophen Safe During Pregnancy?

Here's how to take Tylenol safely to deal with pregnancy's aches and pains.  

Yes, go ahead and take acetaminophen (Tylenol). “We consider acetaminophen very safe to take in pregnancy,” says Kelly Kasper, MD. Always follow dosing instructions closely, though. Too much acetaminophen is hard on your liver—and baby’s too.

Also important: Don’t combine acetaminophen with other medications, especially cold medications, without checking with your doctor or pharmacist first, since some of them contain acetaminophen too. If you take acetaminophen and one of these medications, you could accidentally take too much acetaminophen and damage your (or baby’s) liver.

Heard about a 2014 study linking acetaminophen and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? Doctors say the concern is overblown. “When the study came out, a lot of headlines suggested that acetaminophen use in pregnancy causes kids to have ADHD, but that’s not at all what the study said,” Kasper says. Instead, the study found that women who reported taking acetaminophen during pregnancy were more likely to say they had a child who demonstrated ADHD-like behavior. The study did not demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship between acetaminophen usage and ADHD.

Although no one knows exactly what causes ADHD, experts know that it’s highly hereditary and that it’s probably caused by a number of factors. Many things, not just one, have to happen for someone to develop ADHD. More research will be done, but for now, experts say there’s no need to avoid acetaminophen during pregnancy.

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