Tylenol linked to Autism, Developmental Problems in Children

“Children who used acetaminophen at age 12 to 18 months were more than eight times as likely to be in the autism group when all children were considered and more than 20 times as likely to be in the autism group when limiting cases to children with regression.”

Fig. 2.AMR.acetaminophen

There was no similar autism effect with ibuprofen. In fact, as Schultz explained to me recently by email, “I did not see a direct association with any of the vaccines themselves. It was only the combination of acetaminophen and the MMR vaccine which increased autism risk.”

Schultz had data that should have warned the world. The study pointed singularly at acetaminophen. Not a vaccine. A bad reaction to a vaccine plus ibuprofen was not associated with autism. A bad reaction to a vaccine plus acetaminophen was associated with autism.

Yet, the world didn’t seem to notice.

Parents were still grabbing Infants’ Tylenol and other popular brand-name, acetaminophen-containing medications targeted at children off of the shelf like hot-cakes.

Schultz’s study was small and it shouldn’t be the final word on the topic. It isn’t. A lot of information has accumulated since Schultz’s first published it seven years ago:

The same year that Schultz published his first work on the topic, a large, multinational study found a dose dependent association between use of acetaminophen and asthma, rhinoconjuctivitis, and eczema [11].

A number of scientists have independently published molecular mechanisms by which acetaminophen can induce inflammation [12-15]. The drug can profoundly alter toxin metabolism and inflammatory processes in the body. It actually makes sense that acetaminophen causes brain damage in some children. In fact, based on how the drug affects the body, it would be surprising if the drug didn’t put a baby’s developing brain at risk.

A very large study in Norway showed that the use of acetaminophen by mothers during pregnancy was associated with developmental problems in children at three years of age [16]. Children had problems with their emotions, aggression, attention, and gross motor skills. Ibuprofen use was not associated with these problems.

A study at UCLA in collaboration with scientists in Denmark and Taiwan found that use of acetaminophen during pregnancy is associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [17]. To quote the authors, “Results did not appear to be confounded by maternal inflammation, infection during pregnancy, the mother’s mental health problems, or other (variables they examined)”.

An interesting epidemiologic study suggested that use of acetaminophen at the time of circumcision might account for many cases of autism [18]. Since many parents are unaware of acetaminophen use following circumcision, an epidemiologic study may be the best tool to examine this issue.Yet, to this day, a definitive study has never been conducted to see if acetaminophen works better than traditional methods of cooling down the body (e.g., using a cool towel) to relieve fever.Parents still believe it’s a safe and effective medication for children. Marketing and the herd mentality, rather than scientific evidence, still dictate behavior, even for medical professionals recommending the drug.Maybe in the future, what we now call autism will be a condition of historical interest known as “acetaminophen-induced neurodevelopmental disorder.”Just maybe.Nobody can know for sure.What we do know is that acetaminophen is bad for a fetus and bad for a baby.


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