Examining the relationship of acetaminophen use during pregnancy with early language development in children

Megan L. Woodbury, Patricia Cintora, Shukhan Ng, Pamela A. Hadley, Susan L. Schantz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Acetaminophen is the only analgesic considered safe for use throughout pregnancy. Recent studies suggest that use during pregnancy may be associated with poorer neurodevelopmental outcomes in children, but few have examined language development. Methods: The Illinois Kids Development Study is a prospective birth cohort in east-central Illinois. Between December 2013 and March 2020, 532 newborns were enrolled and had exposure data available. Participants reported the number of times they took acetaminophen six times across pregnancy. Language data were collected at 26.5–28.5 months using the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories (CDI; n = 298), and 36–38 months using the Speech and Language Assessment Scale (SLAS; n = 254). Results: Taking more acetaminophen during the second or third trimester was associated with marginally smaller vocabularies and shorter utterance length (M3L) at 26.5–28.5 months. More acetaminophen use during the third trimester was also associated with increased odds of M3L scores ≤25th percentile in male children. More use during the second or third trimester was associated with lower SLAS scores at 36–38 months. Third trimester use was specifically related to lower SLAS scores in male children. Conclusions: Higher prenatal acetaminophen use during pregnancy may be associated with poorer early language development. Impact: Taking more acetaminophen during pregnancy, particularly during the second and third trimesters, was associated with poorer scores on measures of language development when children were 26.5–28.5 and 36–38 months of age.Only male children had lower scores in analyses stratified by child sex.To our knowledge, this is the first study that has used a standardized measure of language development to assess the potential impact of prenatal exposure to acetaminophen on language development.This study adds to the growing body of literature suggesting that the potential impact of acetaminophen use during pregnancy on fetal neurodevelopment should be carefully evaluated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPediatric Research
DOIs
StateE-pub ahead of print - Dec 11 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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