Is paracetamol safe to use during pregnancy?

18 August 2016

Media statement

Is paracetamol safe to use during pregnancy?

The use of acetaminophen, more commonly known as paracetamol, during pregnancy has recently come into question following a new study examining the possible link between behavioural problems in children and their mother’s prenatal paracetamol use. This has prompted concern amongst expectant mothers and health professionals.

However, lead researcher of the study Dr Stergiakouli has said, “Paracetamol is still considered safe to use during pregnancy so healthcare professionals should not advise pregnant women to limit paracetamol use. There is a risk of not treating fever or pain during pregnancy, and this should be carefully weighed against any potential harm to the offspring”.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) President Professor Michael Permezel confirms this saying, “There is a significant body of evidence to support the safe use of paracetamol during pregnancy and a causal association of paracetamol and behavioural problems in the offspring is yet to be established. In fact, there are other possible explanations for the observation which some clinicians believe to be more likely. Women should therefore not be alarmed by these findings but nevertheless be aware of a possible association”.

Paracetamol is frequently taken to manage either pain or fever in pregnancy. Professor Permezel adds, “Many women will choose to undertake strategies to reduce paracetamol intake in pregnancy but there is insufficient evidence to recommend that paracetamol not be used at all”. 

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