Association between meconium acetaminophen and childhood neurocognitive development in GESTE, a Canadian cohort study.

Year of Publication


Date Published

2018 Sep 07

ISSN Number



<p>Acetaminophen is the only over-the-counter pain reliever that is not contraindicated during pregnancy, but recent studies have questioned whether acetaminophen is safe for the fetus, particularly the developing brain. This prospective birth cohort study probed the previously observed association between in utero exposure to acetaminophen and neurodevelopment by using concentrations of acetaminophen measured in meconium, which more objectively captures exposure of the fetus than maternal report. Exposure, measured by liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry, was categorized into non-detection, low detection, and high detection levels. At age six to eight years, children completed a set of subtests from the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, 4th edition. Additionally this study examined potential effect modification by child sex on the association between acetaminophen exposure and neurodevelopment. In fully adjusted models, in utero exposure to acetaminophen was not statistically significantly associated with decreased scores on any of the examined subtests in all children combined (n = 118). The effect of in utero acetaminophen exposure on the Coding subtest was marginally significantly different among boys and girls, with girls performing significantly better on the task with higher levels of acetaminophen compared to girls with undetectable levels of exposure [βgirls, low = 2.83 (0.97, 4.70), βgirls, high = 1.95 (-0.03, 3.93), βboys, low = 0.02 (-1.78, 1.81), βboys, high = -0.39 (-2.09, 1.31), pinteraction = 0.06]. Effect modification by child sex was not observed on other subtests. These results do not support prior reports of adverse neurodevelopmental effects of in utero exposure to acetaminophen.</p>



Alternate Title

Toxicol. Sci.




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