ASMI reminds pregnant women to check medications with doctor

26 September 2014

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26 September 2014 - The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) today reminded consumers that over-the-counter analgesics, like all other medicines, should only be used during pregnancy on the advice of a doctor.

This was in response to a study at the University of Auckland and published in PLOS ONE, which found that children whose mothers took paracetamol during pregnancy were more likely to have behavioural difficulties or symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. 1

ASMI Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Director Steve Scarff said: "Paracetamol has been used in Australia for many years and based on a large body of research, has a known safety profile.

"While we welcome new research and the insights it brings, the New Zealand research is one study in a broad body of knowledge and so must be viewed in that context. It is therefore important that people do not over-react to the findings. The study also has a number of limitations which must be considered when interpreting its findings.
"The results are not applicable to the general population because only babies that were disproportionately small for gestational age were included in the sample. The study purports to show an association between paracetamol use in pregnancy and ADHD in childhood but it does not show that paracetamol caused the ADHD. In addition, confounding variables such as whether either or both the parents had ADHD were not considered.

"The study relied on parent and child reported symptoms rather than diagnosis by a medical professional. Other limitations were a lack of data about the dose taken or the trimester in which the paracetamol was consumed. Finally, a possible mechanism was not advanced to explain the association.

"The industry is always concerned about the Quality Use of Medicines and medicines safety. We agree with the author's suggestion that further research is needed in this area.
"This study highlights the importance of not taking a medicine's safety for granted during pregnancy and reinforces the need for women to seek the advice of their doctor before they take any medicine during pregnancy," said Mr Scarff.

For more information or to arrange a media interview, please contact:
Marie Kelly-Davies
PR Manager, Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI)
P: 9923 9410 M:0408 256 381 E:

About ASMI: The Australian Self-Medication Industry (ASMI) is the peak body representing sponsors of non-prescription medicines - over-the-counter (OTC) and complementary medicines. Its members make up 85 per cent of the $4bn self care market. Membership totals 60 companies and ASMI members employ approximately 18,000 people with exports estimated at $1.2 billion annually. ASMI's mission is to promote better health through responsible self care. This means ensuring that safe and effective self care products are readily available to all Australians at a reasonable cost. ASMI works to encourage responsible use by consumers and an increasing role for cost-effective self-medication products as part of the broad national health strategy (

Thompson, J. et al. Association between acetaminophen use during pregnancy and ADHD symptoms measured at ages 7 and 11 years. PLOS ONE, September 2014, volume 9, issue 9.