ADHD Risk Factors Include Acetaminophen and Aging Dads

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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a disorder that affects around five percent of children. ADHD can cause difficulty learning and inattentiveness, among other issues. There is no known single cause of ADHD, but researchers are continually trying to pinpoint factors that increase the likelihood of a child having ADHD. This week two studies were released that say acetaminophen taken during pregnancy and the age of the father can increase the chances of a child having ADHD.


Acetaminophen, the active ingredient found in the pain reliever Tylenol, has long been considered one of the safer drugs for women to take during pregnancy, but pregnant women may want to think twice before taking a dose of Tylenol for a mild headache. A study published earlier this week by JAMA Pediatrics found that taking acetaminophen during pregnancy is linked to ADHD.

Dr. Jorn Olsen, one of the study's authors, is quick to say that acetaminophen doesn't directly cause ADHD, but he also notes that the use of acetaminophen increased the risk of ADHD from around five percent to seven percent in the study. "It's still a modest increase," Olsen said. "For the women that are taking these drugs there are no special reasons for concern....for women who are pregnant and who have not taken these drugs, I think that the take-home message would be a lot of the use of these particular drugs during pregnancy is not really necessary."

Olsen also notes that should further studies yield similar results, he would recommend removing acetaminophen from the safe list.


Most people know that the older a woman is, the more likely she is to give birth to a child that has a chromosomal abnormality or other birth defects, but what about the dad? A study from Indiana University that was released this week shows that a father's age is linked to "higher rates of psychiatric and academic problems in offspring." ADHD is included in the conditions linked to aging fathers, and the study found that a child who was conceived when the father was 45 is 13 times more likely to have ADHD.

"We were shocked by the findings," said Brian D'Onofrio, lead author and associate professor at IU Bloomington. "The specific associations with paternal age were much, much larger than in previous studies. In fact, we found that advancing paternal age was associated with greater risk for several problems, such as ADHD, suicide attempts and substance use problems, whereas traditional research designs suggested advancing paternal age may have diminished the rate at which these problems occur."

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