How Safe Is It Really To Take Acetaminophen When You're Pregnant

Many moms-to-be experience aches and pains throughout their pregnancy. In these cases, acetaminophen is typically used for pain relief. In fact, 65 to 70% of pregnant women in the United States report using it during pregnancy, according to a study in Pediatrics. Although acetaminophen is found in hundreds of medicines like Tylenol, which are used for colds, flu, allergies, and sleep, you may be wondering if taking acetaminophen is safe.

While the FDA urges pregnant women to consult with their doctors before taking any pain medication, doctors generally say taking acetaminophen is okay (via WebMD). It's considered safer than ibuprofen or aspirin, which have been linked to birth defects. This means that Tylenol Extra Strength, which contains a higher dosage of acetaminophen, and Tylenol PM, which combines acetaminophen and diphenhydramine, are both safe to use — so long as you stay within the recommended dosage, according to Babylist. You should also consult with your doctor about other medications you are taking, as you want to ensure there are no conflicts.

Possible risks to taking acetaminophen while pregnant

There are some possible risks of taking acetaminophen while pregnant. Research has found a possible link between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and acetaminophen, as well as an increased risk for asthma and autism (via Babylist).

However, the FDA reviewed the 2015 studies and said the findings "are too limited to make any recommendations based on these studies at this time," meaning their recommendations on pregnancy and acetaminophen remain the same. Experts do recommend consulting with your doctor about all medications during your pregnancy and to avoid using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in the first half of your pregnancy (via FDA).

Some safety tips you can practice are reading the instructions and ingredients on the label in detail and being sure to not take more than the maximum dose recommended (via Kaiser Permanente). You should also exercise caution with over-the-counter cold or flu medications, as many already contain acetaminophen and taking too much can be harmful.