On the front page of the Los Angeles Times, Melissa Healy tells a story of a huge study in Scandanavia that shows that the active ingredient in Tylenol and Excedrine and many other over-the-counter medicines is an endocrine disruptor plausibly linked to hyperactivity and other developmental disorders.
Healy makes a strong case simply by quoting the findings:
In analyzing data on more than 64,000 Danish women and their children, researchers found that kids whose mothers took the painkiller at any point during pregnancy were 29% more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than were kids whose mothers took none. The risk increased the most — by 63% — when acetaminophen was taken during the second and third trimesters, and by 28% when used in the third trimester alone.
Could this explain the upsurge in developmental and behaviorial issues linked to mental disorders in recent decades? Healy doesn't speculate.
Nor does she explain why a known endocrine disruptor, acetaminophen, was allowed to be sold freely without warnings, even when it — like many other products — was suspected capable of harm.
She does quote plenty of experts who point out that this is just one study, first of all, and that many doctors — even those aware of the linkage and risk — may continue to prescribe acetominophen to reduce fever and pain.
But she closes on an ominous note:
The international team that conducted the study will next investigate their data for evidence of the neuropsychiatric and other mental health effects of a variety of medications taken during pregnancy. Among the outcomes they will be looking for is autism.