Autism & Tylenol: Scientific Fact or Lawyer Fabricated Fiction?

The internet is buzzing with lawyers claiming they will get you the compensation you deserve for being pregnant and taking Tylenol because it is now linked to autism. Supposedly. Their wording is tricky. Tylenol does not cause autism; Tylenol can be linked to autism. How much of that idea is true? It sounds a bit like a ploy to plant guilt into the heads of mothers with autistic children. This might make the mothers feel like they caused their child’s autism by taking the Tylenol their doctor said was perfectly safe to take in the first place. It is also possible that there is a link between Tylenol and autism, but more research needs to be completed before any conclusion is drawn.

What the Lawyers Say

Of course, the lawyers want you to believe that autism is linked to Tylenol during pregnancy. They plant that tiny seed of doubt that makes you consider calling them to see what compensation you might get for such a claim. This is phishing and is a very sneaky way to get your information. Once you call or email these lawyers, they collect your information, and there is no telling what they may do with that. We live in an age where you cannot trust anyone, especially not with your child’s information. Why do these lawyers decline to say anything about using Tylenol with babies or children in general? Why aren’t they talking about the much more severe risk of developing ADHD when taking Tylenol while pregnant? 

This information was derived from a National Health Institute study that was done on children whose mothers took acetaminophen or Tylenol during their pregnancy. Researchers analyzed data from the Boston Birth Cohort, a long-term study of factors influencing pregnancy and child development. They collected umbilical cord blood from 996 births and measured the amount of acetaminophen and two of its byproducts in each sample. By the time the children were an average of 8.9 years, 25.8% had been diagnosed with ADHD only, 6.6% with ASD only, and 4.2% with ADHD and ASD. The researchers classified the amount of acetaminophen and its byproducts in the samples into thirds, from lowest to highest.

Why are these lawyers not concerned about the 25.8% of children that were diagnosed with ADHD? Speaking only about autism strikes a different, more severe chord, which may grab more people’s attention.

What the Scientists Say

Loud and clear, the scientific and medical research community warns that more research and studies need to be performed before any significant involvement of acetaminophen during pregnancy can be blamed for autism. Autism didn’t just show up suddenly in children whose mothers took Tylenol. It is proven to be genetic and also, hereditary. A team of medical researchers found that mothers passed only half of their structural variants on to their autistic children—a frequency that would be expected by chance alone—suggesting that variants inherited from mothers were not associated with autism. But surprisingly, fathers passed on more than 50% of their variants. This means that autistic children might have inherited risk variants in regulatory regions from their fathers but not their mothers, the researchers report today in Science.

Overall, there isn’t enough research to solidly support any cause of autism. A person with specific genetic mutations may be more susceptible to becoming autistic in certain circumstances, but what if genetic mutations aren’t present? Brain scans show differences in the shape and structure of the brain in children with autism compared to neurotypical children. This means that while a person’s brain is still forming, something causes firing and size differences.

Autism is more common in children born prematurely. Environmental factors may also play a role in gene function and development, but no specific environmental causes have yet been identified. The theory that parental practices are responsible for ASD has long been disproved. Multiple studies have shown that vaccination to prevent childhood infectious diseases does not increase the risk of autism in the population. So, no, the MMR vaccine does not cause or increase the risk of autism. Years ago, that kicked the anti-vaxxers into overdrive and is possibly one of the reasons we are seeing an increase in illnesses related to not getting the required and needed vaccines in children. However, there is possibly a link between the MMR vaccine mixed with Tylenol given after the shot. Again, more research needs to be completed to back this statement. 

High stress levels during pregnancy may also be connected to autism in children. This connection appears to have the most impact when the parent experiences stress between weeks 25 and 28 of pregnancy. Similar to chronic stress, experiencing abusive behavior from a romantic partner before and during pregnancy has also been connected to a higher chance of autism in children, according to a nurses’ health study from 2016.

It has been loosely proven that viral and bacterial infections during the first trimester are linked to autism. They even threw around that morning sickness severity could cause autism. Also, it is said that a vitamin D deficiency in the mother can cause autism.

Conclusion

What we do know is that autism can run in the family. If you are pregnant and your partner’s father is autistic, you will have a bigger chance of passing that on to your baby. If your baby has Fragile X chromosome, the chance is elevated. You can also have no knowledge of any family members with autism, no Fragile X, not had morning sickness, and have had an easy pregnancy, and your child could be autistic. There is no proof of anything specifically causing autism. There may be a chance that certain environmental factors could heighten the possibility of your child being autistic when they already have the potential to inherit autism, but nothing concrete.

Autism is genetic and hereditary; that is something we do know. The speculation that autism is in 1 out of 68 children now and it wasn’t like that decades ago is false. We didn’t really know what to look for decades ago, and autism as a whole was understudied and not understood. Masking is a common autistic trait that primarily girls use to hide their differences after mimicking what other girls their age do. It is not as frequently diagnosed in females because of their ability to simply hide it.

Regardless of what may make the chances of having an autistic child more prevalent, it is not fully understood. We know that autism is not a disease, does not need curing, and does not mean that person cannot live a normal life. Every autistic person is different, which is why they refer to it as autism spectrum disorder. We have a long way to go before it is understood. Everyone’s different, and acceptance is the key. 

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