While many factors can impact the neurodevelopment of children, based on the scientific consensus of the studies reviewed below, acetaminophen use during pregnancy may be a meaningful contributor to the development of autism.
Biological assessments of mothers and their children differ from the studies previously outlined because they don't rely on mothers' recollections of acetaminophen use during pregnancy. Instead, these studies measure acetaminophen in meconium–a baby's first stool–and umbilical cord plasma. These same children were then assessed for ASD years later to determine whether there is/was an association between their mother's acetaminophen use during pregnancy and autism in their children.
Meta analyses simultaneously evaluate large numbers of birth cohorts to develop more robust interpretations of available data. Like the birth cohort studies that comprise them, they examine large numbers of mother-child pairs over years and decades to draw reasonable conclusions about the quantitative effects of prenatal exposure to acetaminophen on child development controlling for different environmental, behavioral, and social factors.
Birth Cohort Analyses
Birth cohort studies examine hundreds or thousands of pregnant mothers and their children over decades to measure differences in child development based on environmental, behavioral, and social factors.