A recent issue of the International Journal of Epidemiology included a report on a study of 48,631 pregnant Norwegian women that took place from 1999-2008. The researchers studied psychomotor development, including communication, fine and gross motor development, externalizing and internalizing behavioral problems, and temperament based on prenatal acetaminophen exposure.
At three years after delivery, the mothers were asked to report their use of acetaminophen at gestational weeks 17 and 30, and six months postpartum. This was a cohort study in which 2,919 same-sex sibling pairs were used to adjust for familial and genetic factors.
The researchers reported that compared to control subjects, children exposed to prenatal acetaminophen for more than 28 days had poorer gross motor development (76 percent worse), communication (80 percent), and activity levels (76 percent).
Children exposed to short-term use of acetaminophen (1 to 27 days) also had poorer gross motor outcomes (90 percent worse).
Acetaminophen is a potentially dangerous drug, yet because it is available over-the-counter, many feel it is safe to use. However, acetaminophen can be toxic if it is taken in too high a dosage.
The problem with acetaminophen is that it is found in a variety of over the counter medications, including cold and flu treatments, allergy medications, sleep aids, and pain relievers. Taking more than the recommended dosage can lead to liver toxicity and even death.
Acetaminophen can damage the liver by depleting the antioxidant glutathione. The antidote for acetaminophen poisoning is N-acetyl cysteine, which is the precursor amino acid to glutathione.
If you need to take acetaminophen on a daily basis, it is best to supplement with N-acetyl cysteine at 600 mg per day.
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