Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

March 2, 2014

ED VASICEK: Tylenol, attention deficit and alternative lifestyles

Mature, responsible people labeled oddballs

Today’s column deals with reversals in two completely unrelated realms: medicine and moral/social values. Let’s begin with medicine.

I take a baby aspirin every day as a blood thinner, which means I can no longer take aspirin or ibuprofen when I have a headache. But I can take Tylenol. OK, I am too cheap. Let me be honest: I take a generic.

In our day and age, many medical experts say aspirin is no longer the drug of choice to reduce fever or lessen headaches. In my experience — especially for sinus headaches — nothing worked like aspirin. Still, Tylenol is thought to be the safest of all pain relievers and fever reducers. Recently, however, the health community has discovered an exception: Tylenol may precipitate ADHD (attention deficit)!

According to Time Health and Family, “... Now there’s another thing to add to the growing list of agents — including tobacco from cigarettes, mercury from fish, and alcohol — that may affect their babies’ development. In a study published in JAMA Pediatrics, an international group of researchers led by Dr. Jorn Olsen at the University of Aarhus in Denmark found a strong correlation between acetaminophen (found in common pain killers such as Tylenol) use among pregnant women and the rate of attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnoses and prescriptions for ADHD medications in their children.”

How serious a risk is this? The article continues, “Overall, moms who used the pain reliever to treat things like headaches or to reduce fevers saw a 37% increased risk in their kids receiving an ADHD diagnosis and a 29% increased risk in the chances that their kids needed ADHD medications compared with moms who didn’t use the over-the-counter medication at all.” Wow.

If you know folks who are resistant to antibiotics, you may have noticed the medical world is returning to Sulfa, a drug commonly used during and before World War II. Maybe we will head back to aspirin again, too?

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