Prenatal Exposure to Acetaminophen and the Risk of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: A Nationwide Study in Taiwan

Background: Studies have suggested that a significant association exists between prenatal exposure to acetaminophen and the offspring’s attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) risk. However, this association has largely been unexplored among the Asian population, generally, and the Taiwanese population, specifically.

Methods: In our study, 950 study pairs (children with ADHD [ICD-9-CM code: 314] and their mothers) and 3,800 control pairs (children without ADHD and their mothers) matched by demographic characteristics were identified between 1998 and 2008 from the Taiwan Longitudinal Health Insurance Database. Maternal use of acetaminophen was assessed in the first trimester, second trimester, and third trimester of pregnancy and over the period from 3 months before pregnancy to the date of last menstrual cycle.

Results: Logistic regression analysis with adjustments for demographic data, gestational infections, comorbid perinatal conditions, and maternal mental health disorders indicated that exposure to acetaminophen in the second trimester (odds ratio [OR] = 1.19; 95% CI, 1.00–1.40), both the first and second trimesters (OR = 1.28; 95% CI, 1.00–1.64), or in any trimester (OR = 1.20; 95% CI, 1.01–1.42) was associated with an increased risk of ADHD in offspring. Sensitivity analysis excluding gestational infections and maternal mental health disorders confirmed this association (OR = 1.33; 95% CI, 1.04–1.69).

Conclusion: Prenatal exposure to acetaminophen was associated with an increased risk of ADHD in offspring, regardless of gestational infections and maternal mental health disorders. Additional studies are necessary to clarify the underlying mechanisms by which prenatal exposure to acetaminophen leads to neurodevelopmental risks.

J Clin Psychiatry 2019;80(5):18m12612

https://doi.org/10.4088/JCP.18m12612