(Medical Daily) A team of researchers in Spain studied 2,644 mother-child pairs, starting with pregnancy and going through the child's fifth birthday. Women were asked if they ever took paracetamol during pregnancy, and if so, if their use was sporadic or persistent. And at age one and five, respectively, researchers gave children computerized tests to measure their attention and visual speed processing.
Compared to children who had not been exposed to paracetamol during pregnancy, those who were exposed scored lower on tests for hyperactivity, impulsivity, and visual speed, the amount of time it takes to respond to a visual stimulus. These effects were greater among children whose mothers persistently took the painkiller during pregnancy, and in boys especially, there was an increased risk for autism.