Tylenol Use in Pregnancy Linked to Autism/ADHD

Widely considered one of the most trusted brands in America, Tylenol’s reputation has taken a hit recently due to growing evidence of the drug’s potential to interfere with fetal development when taken during pregnancy, potentially leading to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in exposed children. If your child has been diagnosed with autism and/or ADHD and you believe acetaminophen use in pregnancy to be the cause, you should consider speaking to a Tylenol autism attorney as soon as possible to discuss your legal options. You may be able to recover compensation for your child’s injuries by filing a Tylenol lawsuit against the drug manufacturer.

Tylenol Autism and ADHD Lawsuits

Tylenol Lawsuit Information

Acetaminophen is the most common drug ingredient in the U.S., most commonly sold under the brand name Tylenol, a popular pain relief medication manufactured by a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary called McNeil Consumer Healthcare. Although Tylenol is touted as safe enough for use during pregnancy, recent guidance from a group of leading medical experts suggests a need for increased caution regarding Tylenol use in pregnancy, due to a possible link between acetaminophen and serious developmental disorders like autism and ADHD. Women who took Tylenol while pregnant and had children who were later diagnosed with ASD and/or ADHD may be eligible to pursue damages from the drug manufacturer or retailers for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other injuries. 

In October 2022, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) certified a class action lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, to which all Tylenol autism lawsuits filed throughout the federal court system will be transferred. Dozens of Tylenol injury lawsuits have already been filed by families in the U.S. who claim that Johnson & Johnson knew or should have known that taking Tylenol during pregnancy can cause neurodevelopmental disorders like ASD or ADHD and failed to adequately warn consumers about this serious health risk. Product liability lawyers across the country are currently in the process of reviewing what is expected to amount to thousands of claims on behalf of affected children and families.

Widely-Used Medications that Contain Acetaminophen

  • Tylenol
  • NyQuil and DayQuil
  • Excedrin
  • Mucinex
  • Benadryl
  • Dimetapp
  • Sudafed
  • Robitussin
  • Theraflu
  • Vicks
  • Zicam
  • Alka-Seltzer Plus
  • Vicodin
  • Percocet
  • Fioricet
  • Tylenol with codeine
  • Hydrocodone bitartrate

“A study conducted by Johns Hopkins and published in JAMA Psychiatry in 2019, measured acetaminophen in newborn umbilical cord blood. It found that children with the highest levels of the drug in their cord blood were 3.62 times more likely to be diagnosed with ASD and 2.86 times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.”

History of Tylenol

Tylenol, the brand name of paracetamol, which is also known as acetaminophen (APAP), is a widely used over-the-counter pain reliever taken by millions of Americans to treat minor aches and pains, including pregnant women. In fact, Tylenol has long been considered the safest treatment option for relieving pain and fever during pregnancy, and an estimated 65% of pregnant women in the U.S. report taking Tylenol to relieve headaches or back pain, trusting claims about the drug’s safety profile. However, recent studies have suggested that pregnant women who routinely take Tylenol could increase their child’s risk of developing autism or ADHD. In addition to being sold under the brand name Tylenol, acetaminophen is also an active ingredient in more than 600 other prescription and over-the-counter medications commonly used to reduce fever and treat mild to moderate pain, including popular cold, cough, and flu products.

Key Signs of ADHD or ASD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder:

  • Hyperactivity (being abnormally active)
  • Impulsivity (acting without thinking)
  • Constantly fidgeting or being unable to sit still
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing
  • Having a short attention span

Autism Spectrum Disorder:

  • Delayed language skills
  • Delayed movement skills
  • Delayed cognitive or learning skills
  • Hyperactive, impulsive, and/or inattentive behavior
  • Avoiding or failing to keep eye contact
  • Difficulty with social communication and interaction
  • Exhibiting obsessive interests
  • Showing restricted or repetitive behaviors or interests
  • Unusual eating or sleeping habits
  • Unusual mood or emotional reactions

Link Between Tylenol and Autism, ADHD

Views on the safety of Tylenol use in pregnancy changed drastically in 2021, when a group of 91 healthcare professionals and scientists issued a consensus statement warning that “increasing experimental and epidemiological research suggests that prenatal exposure to APAP might alter fetal development, which could increase the risks of some neurodevelopmental, reproductive and urogenital disorders.” In another study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology in 2021, researchers found that Tylenol use during pregnancy was associated with a 19% increased risk of autism and a 21% increased risk of ADHD in prenatally exposed children. 

These recent findings echo those of earlier studies linking in-utero acetaminophen exposure to developmental disorders. A 2019 study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), for instance, found that children with the highest levels of acetaminophen and its byproducts in their umbilical cord blood were 2.86-times more likely to show signs of ADHD and 3.62-times more likely to develop autism, compared to those with the lowest levels. Researchers who conducted a meta-analysis of 132,738 mother-child pairs came to a similar conclusion in 2018, revealing a 20% greater risk of autism and a 30% greater risk of ADHD among children who experienced prolonged exposure to acetaminophen in utero.

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