Norwegian professor warns about US study on paracetamol use in pregnant women

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A Norwegian expert is skeptical of a study that shows three times the risk of some mental disorders in children with high paracetamol use in the mother during pregnancy.

Professor Hedvig Marie Egeland Nordeng at the Department of Pharmacy, University of Oslo, warns against interpreting findings and transferring them to Norwegian conditions, according to

The new study from the United States was conducted at the National Institutes of Health and is published in the renowned journal JAMA Psychiatry. The researchers collected umbilical cord blood from 996 newborns and measured the contents and residues of the painkiller, known as paracet in Norway. The children were followed up until they were nine years old and checked for two mental diagnoses.

Apparent risk
In short, the researchers concluded that the children of the mothers who had eaten the most paracetamol had a 2.9 times higher risk of having an ADHD diagnosis measured against children of mothers who had used the least painkillers in pregnancy. Also, the risk of being diagnosed in the so-called autism spectrum, such as Aspergers, increased with the intake of more painkillers during pregnancy, according to research.

As many as 26 percent of children in the United States survey received an ADHD diagnosis, which is much higher than in Norway, where 4 percent of children have this diagnosis.

Can not be compared
Professor Nordeng points out several factors that make her wary. One factor is that the mothers in the study belong to the so-called Boston Birth Cohort, where residents generally have a different socio-economic background than Norwegians, many of whom are more resource-poor, poorly educated and overweight.

– In general, we have a healthier food population in Norway, says Nordeng.

Nevertheless, she finds the study interesting because it is based on actual findings in the blood, not on self-reported intake, which increases uncertainty.

Nordeng further emphasizes that her impression is that Norwegian pregnant women are very restrictive with medicines, and have a good reason when first taking a medicine, while drug use is greater among pregnant women in the US than in Norway.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today


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