Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is an affliction that affects millions of children in the United States. It leads to all kinds of problems for families, as children struggle to learn and socialize at the same level as other kids. Many ADHD sufferers take prescription drugs to treat the disorder, and those drugs can have unpleasant side effects. Since the prevalence of ADHD seems to be growing, researchers are trying to understand its causes and how it could be more effectively prevented or treated.
Acetaminophen Associated with ADHD in Babies
According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), acetaminophen (of which Tylenol is the most popular brand) may lead to ADHD in babies when it is taken by the pregnant mother. The study found that children whose mothers took Tylenol while pregnant have up to a 40% higher risk of being diagnosed with ADHD, and the risk of ADHD appears to increase with the amount of Tylenol the mother takes during her pregnancy.
According to the study, mothers who take Tylenol at least one day a week over a 20-week period are at the highest risk of having a child with hyperkinetic disorder (HKD), ADHD, and ADHD-like behaviors. Researchers suggest that Tylenol is a hormone disruptor, and that abnormal hormonal exposure during pregnancy may influence fetal brain development. If some of the baby’s hormones are not behaving as they should, the brain may not be getting some of the signals it needs during development.
Pregnant women were already discouraged from taking aspirin or ibuprofen, so this study raises the question of what painkillers they can take. These medications also reduce fever, and fever in pregnant women must be controlled so that it does not cause serious injury to the baby. Therefore, it may still be advisable for pregnant women with fevers to take Tylenol, so long as they are careful about the dosage. Researchers stress that the study only found an association, and not a correlation, between Tylenol and ADHD. Further studies will be needed to determine whether there is a cause-and-effect.
HIE May Cause ADHD in Babies
Other studies have found that, when a baby is deprived of oxygen before or during birth, the baby’s risk of developing ADHD is increased. Babies that experience hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), which is brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation at birth, have a very high risk for ADHD. This oxygen deprivation can be caused by a lack of oxygen in the baby’s blood or a lack of blood flow to the baby’s brain. In addition to ADHD, HIE also causes cerebral palsy.
What to Do if Your Child Is Diagnosed with ADHD
If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD, and you believe it may be the result of medical negligence, you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately. An attorney can review the facts of your case and determine whether you have a viable claim. If so, they can help you seek the compensation you deserve.