Up to half of all babies are exposed to paracetamol in early pregnancy. Recent studies have shown this could be linked to impaired cognitive development and communication in young children.
Researchers studied the association between prenatal paracetamol exposure at weeks 8–13 of pregnancy and language development — an early marker of impaired cognitive development — at 30 months of age in 754 mother-child pairs.
There was no association between paracetamol exposure and language delay, defined as the use of fewer than 50 words, in boys. However, girls whose mothers took paracetamol six times or more in the first trimester had a 5.9-fold greater chance of language delay than those whose mothers took none. Girls born to mothers with paracetamol urine concentrations in the highest quartile had a 10.3-fold greater odds of language delay than those in the lowest quartile.
Writing in European Psychiatry (online, 10 January 2018), the researchers said that, if replicated, their findings indicated that pregnant women should limit their paracetamol use