Is It Safe to Take Tylenol During Pregnancy?

There are so many do's and don'ts when it comes to pregnancy. Don't eat this, do eat that, don't do this, do this. I recently went to an OB appointment for a prenatal visit (sadly, I miscarried later on) and I was shocked by how much has changed since I had my first baby 10 years ago. 

Back then, I peed on a stick, went to the doctor around 14 weeks, and just did my thing until delivery. I didn't worry too much about anything. But this time around, I left with a whole binder of things I wasn't supposed to do. I laughed out loud at some of the restrictions, like the suggestion that I avoid lifting anything heavier than 20 pounds. Um, my three-year-old definitely weighs more than that, so not sure how exactly that was supposed to work …

The point is, pregnancy, especially for first-time moms can be a scary time. There are so many restrictions on what you can put into your body, from caffeine to medication, that it can be overwhelming. And if you're used to popping a pill every now and then for the occasional headache, aches, or pain, you may have heard that during pregnancy, most doctors recommend that pregnant women avoid taking any medication at all. If you must take a medication to deal with something like a headache, they recommend that pregnant women avoid taking Ibuprofen and instead take Tylenol. 

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But now, new concerns have been raised about the medication, leading pregnant women to wonder if the advice they have been hearing all along is actually wrong. So what's the deal? Is Tylenol safe to take during pregnancy?

Image via Flickr/ Andy Melton

The concerns about the drug commonly known as Tylenol (the actual drug is acetaminophen) have resulted out of a Danish 2014 study that linked the use of acetaminophen to ADHD and other attention disorders in children. The studies found that, not surprisingly, the risk of ADHD seemed to greater for children when their mothers took Tylenol more regularly during their pregnancies. As in, the more medicine she took, the more likely the child was to get ADHD. 

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The first study was met with some skepticism by doctors, largely because it's apparently really, really hard to prove that one thing during a mom's pregnancy caused an issue with a child much later in life, like the issue of ADHD. There are so many factors that come into play, making it pretty hard to link the two. So another, more recent 2017 study was done and this time, they controlled almost every factor they could think of and the results were pretty conclusive: 

When Tylenol was taken by a pregnant mom, regardless of the reason, for 29 consecutive days or more, there was almost a doubled risk of ADHD. 

So what does all this mean? Well, it means that somehow, despite all the medical advances we have made and all the technology we have available to use, pregnancy and the inner-workings of the female body, especially as it grows another body (or more) still remains a mystery to science. Your best bet during pregnancy is to avoid all medication that you can, keeping in mind that no study has ever proven anything negative has happened from popping one Tylenol once in 9 months for that massive hormone-induced migraine you got hit with. 

Most dangers–and most studies–look at higher-than-average use and one Tylenol during your pregnancy is not going to give your kid ADHD. I mean, think about it: 29 straight days of taking Tylenol is a lot of days. I don't think I've taken anything for 29 consecutive days straight ever (and yes that probably includes prenatal vitamins when I was pregnant, but don't tell my midwife …)

The point here, ladies is simple. Don't be afraid to take a Tylenol here and there throughout your pregnancy if you really need it and if your doctor clears you for it. Just don't take a Tylenol every single day for the entire nine months. And for common aches and pains, like headaches and fevers, you can also look at other, more natural remedies, like investing in an eye pack you can keep stashed in your freezer or trying your hand at essential oils. No, I don't sell them and no, I don't bathe in them, but I do know a good dash of peppermint oil on an achy body can work wonders, I'm just saying …

What do you think?

Is It Safe to Take Tylenol During Pregnancy?

Chaunie Brusie is a coffee mug addict, a labor and delivery nurse turned freelance writer, and a young(ish) mom of four. She is the author of "Tiny Blue Lines: Preparing For Your Baby, Moving Forward In Faith, & Reclaiming Your Life In An Unplanned Pregnancy" and "The Moments That Made You A Mother". She also runs Passion Meets Practicality, a community of tips + inspiration for work-at-home mothers. ... More

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