June 20, 2019
1 min read

Maternal acetaminophen use during pregnancy tied to excess weight in girls

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Girls born to mothers who frequently used acetaminophen while pregnant may be more likely to be overweight at age 11 years compared with girls whose mothers did not use acetaminophen while pregnant, according to findings published in Obesity.

“Emerging research has suggested that early-life exposure to ‘obesogens,’ including xenobiotic chemicals and endocrine disruptors, could permanently alter metabolic processes and predispose individuals to weight gain,” Zeyan Liew, PhD, an assistant professor in the department of environmental health sciences at the Yale School of Public Health, and colleagues wrote. “Acetaminophen is a possible obesogen that should be evaluated for its potential to promote weight gain.”

Liew and colleagues evaluated acetaminophen use for the mothers of 30,127 children aged 7 years and 24,934 children aged 11 years during pregnancy. All mothers were from the Danish National Birth Cohort and gave birth between 1996 and 2002. Mothers self-reported use of acetaminophen and other painkillers and medications as well as weekly usage during pregnancy via three telephone interviews. The parents of the children in the study primarily reported height, weight and waist circumference measures.

Prenatal acetaminophen use occurred in 55% of the mothers in the study, the researchers wrote, but such use was not associated with BMI and waist circumference in all children, whereas girls aged 7 years and boys of any age were not affected in terms of overweight status. According to the researchers, girls aged 11 years who had mothers who used acetaminophen while pregnant were 10% more likely to be overweight (RR = 1.1; 95% CI, 0.97-1.24) compared with girls whose mothers did not use acetaminophen. In addition, the researchers noted that using acetaminophen during each trimester increased the odds (RR = 1.31; 95% CI, 1.1-1.56) for girls aged 11 years.

“The positive association observed for girls at 11 years might indicate a sex-hormone-specific mechanism of the exposures, but it could also be explained by the timing of pubertal growth and outcome measures in our study,” the researchers wrote. “Studies with longer follow-up time are needed to evaluate whether the estimated sex-specific exposure effects persist into older ages.” – by Phil Neuffer

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.