Tylenol Autism & ADHD Lawsuit

Tylenol Potentially Linked to Austism and ADHD

Tylenol lawsuits claiming that the branded drug and generic versions of acetaminophen are being filed because of a failure to warn consumers that the drug could lead to Autism and/or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in their child if taken during pregnancy.

In 2021, a Consensus Statement was published by medical experts warning that the use of Tylenol during pregnancy was not safe and could lead to higher rates of autism.

If your child or someone you know was diagnosed with Autism or ADHD and Tylenol/acetaminophen was taken regularly or in high dosages during pregnancy, you may be eligible for compensation.

About one in 44 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There are also an estimated 6.1 million diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Researchers don’t know exactly what causes these disorders. Genetics appear to be involved in many cases, but until recently, no one would have suspected that Tylenol (acetaminophen) might be a factor.

That’s what recent studies have suggested, however—that maternal use of Tylenol and generic acetaminophen may increase the risk of autism and ADHD in children.

The Tylenol autism-ADHD lawyers at Chaffin Luhana are currently investigating cases in which unborn children were exposed to Tylenol, or other brands of acetaminophen, and then went on to develop these neurological disorders.

Give our experienced attorneys a call today to schedule a complimentary consultation at 1-888-480-1123.

What Is Acetaminophen?

Acetaminophen is one of the most widely used over-the-counter pain relievers in the United States. It helps to relieve mild to moderate pain from headaches, muscle aches, menstrual periods, colds and sore throats, toothaches, backaches, and more.

Researchers aren’t sure how it works and have been guessing at its mechanism of action for decades. It seems to block an enzyme (COX) that sends out pain signals, which would make it similar to aspirin and ibuprofen.

But other research shows that it works on the endocannabinoid system, which has a role in the sensation of pain, and that it makes adjustments to signaling from the “good-mood” neurotransmitter, serotonin.

It could be that the drug operates via a combination of all these mechanisms. To date, we still don’t have enough solid evidence to provide a clear picture. Regardless of how it works, it’s long been believed to be one of the safest pain relievers available because it doesn’t promote stomach bleeding or cause some of the other side effects that aspirin and ibuprofen can over the long term.

Newer research, however, shows that it may not be as safe as we thought.

New Acetaminophen Link with Autism and ADHD

Recent research suggests a concerning link between the intake of Tylenol/acetaminophen during pregnancy and an increased risk of ASD and ADHD in children.

In 2021, researchers examined data from over 73,000 mother-child pairs. The results showed that children prenatally exposed to acetaminophen were 19 percent and 21 percent more likely to have borderline or clinical ASD and ADHD symptoms, respectively, compared to non-exposed children. The associations were slightly stronger among boys, though both boys and girls were at risk. Postnatal exposure did not cause the same risk.

“These results…” the scientists wrote, “support providing clear information to pregnant women and their partners about potential long-term risks of acetaminophen use.”

In 2019, researchers found that compared to the lowest third, the middle third of acetaminophen exposure was associated with about 2.26 times the risk for ADHD, and the highest third of exposure was associated with 2.86 times the risk. Similarly, ASD risk was higher for those in the middle third (2.14 times) and the highest third (3.62 times).

“People in general believe Tylenol is benign,” said Xiaobin Wang, co-author. “Our study further supports the concerns raised by previous studies—that there is a link between Tylenol use during pregnancy and increased risk for autism or ADHD.”

An earlier 2016 study found similar results. Scientists collected data from 7,796 mothers between 1991 and 1992, along with their children and partners. They found that children exposed to acetaminophen prenatally were at an increased risk of multiple behavioral difficulties.

Specifically, the children of mothers who had taken the drug at 18 and 32 weeks of pregnancy were more likely to have behavioral problems by the time they turned seven years old than those who hadn’t. There was a 42 percent increased risk for behavioral issues and a 31 percent increased risk for hyperactivity.

From the evidence we have so far, it appears that the level of exposure seems to correlate with the level of risk—the higher the dose and the more frequently the pregnant woman takes the drug, the higher the risk of ASD or ADHD for the unborn child. 

Is the Acetaminophen to Blame?

These studies show a link between the use of acetaminophen and the possibility that the child will develop ASD or ADHD, but so far, they provide no clear evidence that one directly causes the other.

It could be that whatever condition the women were treating with the Tylenol had an impact. Previous studies have shown that inflammation and fever in the mother during pregnancy can increase the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders in children.

The researchers did adjust for reported maternal chronic illnesses, but questions remain.

Nevertheless, the results of these studies are concerning. In 2021, a research team including two Yale researchers cautioned pregnant women against using acetaminophen, citing the growing body of research suggesting the drug may affect fetal development. They suggested that pregnant women avoid the drug “unless its use is medically indicated” and talk to their doctors before using it on a long-term basis. They added that pregnant women should “minimize exposure” by using the “lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time.”

All this has led many parents to ask why the makers of Tylenol and acetaminophen failed to warn about these potential risks. Instead, the manufacturers have only touted the safety of their medications when taken during pregnancy. 

Autism (ASD) and ADHD Explained

Both ASD and ADHD are neurodevelopment disorders, meaning that they are conditions in which the brain’s development has been negatively affected in some way. Both disorders affect the central nervous system, impacting social and focusing skills, language, movement, and memory.

Often the two conditions coexist in patients, with more than half of all individuals diagnosed with ASD also having signs of ADHD. In turn, up to a quarter of children with ADHD have low-level signs of ASD.

There are also some similarities in the symptoms of these conditions. A child with either one or both may suffer from:

  • Impulsive behavior
  • An inability to sit for long periods
  • Difficulty with organization, time management, and decision making
  • Trouble understanding and acting on social skills

There are key differences between the two conditions, as well. While children with ADHD may struggle to pay attention and are easily distracted, children with autism are more likely to develop hyperfocus, which is the extreme focus on topics of interest, to the exclusion of other topics or things.

Children with ADHD may talk without pausing or ceasing, whereas those with autism may struggle to express themselves. A child with ADHD may interrupt others or fail to notice when they are disturbing others, whereas one with autism is more likely to avoid eye contact and fail to respond to conversation cues or prompts from others.

There is no cure for either condition, so doctors focus on managing symptoms through behavioral modification, diet, and medications.

What Causes ASD and ADHD?

Though both conditions are neurodevelopmental disorders, scientists aren’t sure what causes them or why some children develop them and others don’t. They know that genetics is a factor, as the disorders run in families.

Researchers have also discovered some key differences in the brains of people with these disorders. Certain areas of the brain may be smaller, for instance, whereas others may be larger. There may also be an imbalance in the level of neurotransmitters (messengers) in the brain, or these chemicals may not be working correctly.

Finally, certain groups appear to be at a higher risk for ASD and ADHD, including:

  • premature infants
  • those with epilepsy
  • those with brain damage
  • children exposed to drugs, cigarette smoke, or alcohol while in the womb

Acetaminophen Also Linked to Liver Toxicity

In addition to the concerns about autism and ADHD, acetaminophen has recently been linked with a higher risk of liver damage.

You can find acetaminophen in hundreds of over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications used to treat all types of pain related to muscle strain, menstrual periods, colds, cough, flu, and even sleeplessness.

Yet the line between enough and too much of the medication is thin. According to a 2020 study, over the past 40 years, acetaminophen toxicity has accounted for 46 percent of all acute liver failure cases in the U.S., and between 40-70 percent of all cases in Great Britain and Europe.

Acetaminophen toxicity “dwarfs by several fold the number of cases of acute liver failure resulting from all prescription drugs combined, and has been the subject of two U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Advisory Committee meetings in the past 15 years,” the researchers wrote.

Statistics show that acetaminophen toxicity is the second most common cause of liver transplantation worldwide, and the most common cause of liver transplantation in the U.S. It is responsible for 56,000 emergency department visits, 2,600 hospitalizations, and 500 deaths per year.

The FDA attacked the overdose problem by improving package labeling and working to increase public awareness about taking too much acetaminophen—which often occurs when combining different medications.

Unfortunately, researchers say that public awareness “remains modest,” as too many people still fall victim to unintentional overdoses.

Types of Injuries Related to Acetaminophen Exposure in Pregnancy

Research suggests that pregnant women who take acetaminophen—particularly in larger doses for a long period—may increase the risk that their children will suffer from the following later in life:

  • Behavioral problems
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Other neurodevelopmental problems later in life
  • Early puberty in girls
  • Male fertility problems
  • Undescended testicles
  • Deficits in IQ level

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Tylenol Safe to Take During Pregnancy?

While acetaminophen has long been believed to be safe to take during pregnancy, recent research has raised concerns.

Current recommendations suggest that pregnant women avoid taking acetaminophen unless medically indicated, and to check with their doctors before using it. Those who do choose to take it should use the smallest dose for the shortest period. Most doctors still believe that this is perfectly safe. Health professionals are now warning, however, against prolonged use or higher doses.

It is also dangerous to allow a fever and/or inflammation to continue untreated. If you’re suffering from conditions that increase these levels, always check with your doctor about the best steps for managing them.

Does Acetaminophen Cause Autism or ADHD?

The connection between the medication—when taken during pregnancy—is still unclear. Research has shown a link between prenatal exposure to acetaminophen and an increased risk of these disorders. But it’s unclear yet whether the medication causes the disorders, or if something else may explain the link.

Is There a Tylenol Birth Defect Lawsuit?

The Tylenol autism-ASD lawyers at Chaffin Luhana are currently investigating cases in which pregnant mothers took Tylenol or acetaminophen and then had children who were later diagnosed with ASD or ADHD. Several new lawsuits concerning this issue have already been filed in courts around the country.

Do I Qualify to File a Tylenol Autism-ASD Lawsuit?

To be successful in a Tylenol lawsuit, you’ll need to have evidence verifying your exposure to the drug during pregnancy. You must also have medical evidence that your child was diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder.

Check to see if you have the following documents:

  • Medical records of your Tylenol usage during pregnancy.
  • Receipts for your purchases of acetaminophen during pregnancy.
  • Medical records showing your child’s diagnosis of a neurodevelopmental disorder.
  • Records from your child’s therapist or psychiatrist, if applicable.
  • Notes from doctors or other healthcare professionals about your Tylenol use during pregnancy.

What If I Used Generic Acetaminophen?

In many cases, you cannot file a lawsuit against a generic manufacturer of a drug, as they are generally held blameless as long as their product and labeling information exactly matches that of the brand-name drug.

In this case, however, parents are filing claims against Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, and other manufacturers who create and distribute acetaminophen products. Talk to your Tylenol lawyer about your options.

Tylenol Autism-ADHD Lawsuits

Johnson and Johnson (J&J), the makers of Tylenol, and other companies producing acetaminophen—like CVS and Walgreens—are currently defending a growing number of Tylenol lawsuits around the country. Plaintiffs are alleging that the use of the painkiller during pregnancy caused their children to develop ASD or ADHD and that the manufacturers failed to provide adequate warnings about the risks.

The plaintiffs add that the companies should have been more forthcoming with the information concerning a potential link between acetaminophen and these neurodevelopmental disorders, as it could have prompted some pregnant women to be more cautious about their use of the drug.

On June 10th, 2022, a group of plaintiffs filed a motion to consolidate all federally filed Tylenol lawsuits before one judge, to help preserve judicial resources and prevent duplicative discovery and conflicting decisions. Such coordination might help lead to settlement negotiations between the parties in the future.

Parents should be able to rely on a manufacturer’s safety information. If you took Tylenol or another brand of acetaminophen while pregnant and then your child was diagnosed with ASD or ADHD, you may be eligible to file a Tylenol lawsuit to recover damages.

Chaffin Luhana is now investigating these cases and invites you to call today at 888-480-1123.

A popular pain reliever, Tylenol (acetaminophen) is considered a safe option for ailments like muscle aches and pains, headaches, and cold and flu symptoms. Too much of the over-the-counter drug over a short period of time, however, can cause serious side effects, including Tylenol acute liver failure, also known as ALF.

Cases of Tylenol acute liver failure have been on the rise, with one study published in Hepatology (2005) reporting that between 1998 and 2003, cases of acetaminophen liver failure rose from 28 percent to 51 percent. Those who have suffered injuries have sometimes gone on to file a Tylenol lawsuit, in an attempt to hold Johnson & Johnson (J&J) liable for failing to adequately warn of the risks.

Studies Show Risk Of Tylenol Acute Liver Failure

Scientific studies examining the prevalence of Tylenol acute liver failure cases helped to increase awareness of the issue. In 2006, for example, researchers reported that acetaminophen-related overdoses account for about 56,000 emergency room visits and 26,000 hospitalizations annually, with over 450 deaths. The poison surveillance database noted that the fatalities resulting from acetaminophen-related incidences nearly doubled between 1997 and 2001.

Consumers Doubling Up On Drugs

As more and more products became available that included acetaminophen, manufacturers failed to take into account the fact that consumers may take more than one drug—a sinus headache drug, for example, along with their regular Tylenol pain reliever. Since both potentially contain acetaminophen, individuals were unknowingly consuming dangerously high doses of the drug. A Tylenol lawyer is also likely to assert that the manufacturers should have done more to alert consumers of this potential problem than J&J and other companies did.

Changes Slow In Coming

In 2009, an FDA expert panel recommended greater regulation on acetaminophen, urging the agency to cap the maximum dose available over the counter to 650 mg, and to lower the recommended daily dose from 4,000 mg to 3,250 mg. The agency also required additional warnings about liver toxicity that year, including a warning that alerted consumers to the problem of taking combination products.

In July 2011, Tylenol manufacturer Johnson & Johnson (J&J) announced that it was reducing the maximum daily dose of its Extra Strength Tylenol from 8 pills (4,000 mg) to 6 pills (3,000) mg. The change, they said, was to help reduce the risk of accidental acetaminophen overdose, which is a leading cause of Tylenol acute liver failure.

For many individuals, however, the warning is too little and comes too late.

A Tylenol Lawyer Can Help

Johnson & Johnson and other acetaminophen drug makers have made decisions to release ever-increasing dosages of the drug, often in new combination products, that have put public health at risk. At the same time, they have failed to provide adequate warnings and instructions that would alert consumers to the potential for Tylenol (acetaminophen) acute liver failure.

If you or a loved one has suffered from liver problems as a result of using Tylenol or another acetaminophen medication, a Tylenol lawsuit may help you recover damages. The attorneys at Chaffin Luhana LLP are well educated in acetaminophen-related injuries and are ready to help you. Call today for a free and confidential case evaluation at 1-888-480-1123.