Acetaminophen Use in Pregnancy Associated with Language Delays in Toddlers

January 22, 2024

Each Use of the Pain Reliever in 3rd Trimester Tied to a Two-Word Reduction in Vocabulary

A study from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has investigated the link between acetaminophen use during pregnancy and language outcomes in early childhood. The findings revealed that increased acetaminophen use, especially in the third trimester, was associated with modest decreases in language development. The study accessed data from the Illinois Kids Development Study involving 298 two-year-old children. Sex-specific associations were observed, with increased acetaminophen use late in pregnancy showing language delays primarily in male children. This research suggests that the second and third trimesters might be critical periods of neurodevelopment sensitive to disruptions by prenatal acetaminophen exposure that could impact auditory structures and pathways essential for language development. The most significant finding demonstrated that each use of acetaminophen in the third trimester was associated with a nearly two-word reduction in vocabulary in two-year-olds. Despite the small sample size, the associations with increased frequency of acetaminophen use and language delays were notable. The study emphasizes the importance of considering the timing and frequency of prenatal acetaminophen use for minor aches and pains when considering language development outcomes for offspring, especially in males.

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