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Is it safe to take Tylenol in pregnancy?

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Updated February 26, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

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Pain happens in pregnancy for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes the pain is related to pregnancy, like a back ache. Other times it's simply something that may have happened anyway like a headache or injury. So the question becomes, what can you do about the pain?

Trying non-medicinal things is a good start, like resting, ice or heat as appropriate, but sometimes, your best bet at pain relief is from pain relievers. There are many over the counter medications available, but many of these are not good in pregnancy because of potential problems with your baby. Tylenol is considered to be generally safe in pregnancy for all three trimesters.

It is important to note that one large study found that there was a link between mothers who took acetaminophen in pregnancy and an increase in ADHD-like behaviors and prescriptions at age seven. This study does not indicate that there was a direct correlation, but simply a link that needs further study. This amplifies the need for starting with non-medicinal pain relief.

While nothing is 100% safe or effective, this over the counter medication is considered a very low risk to you or your baby in pregnancy. You should ask your practitioner early on in your pregnancy what medications are safe, prior to you potentially needing them. Be sure to keep a list! It is wise to talk to your practitioner if you have aches or pains that recur on a frequent basis, particularly headaches.

It is not considered safe to take ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or aspirin in pregnancy unless prescribed by your doctor or midwife.

Source:

Liew, Z., Ritz, B., Rebordosa, C., Lee, P., & Olsen, J. (2014). Acetaminophen use during pregnancy, behavioral problems, and hyperkinetic disorders. JAMA Pediatrics. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.4914

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