Prenatal Exposure to Acetaminophen and Overweight in Childhood

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2019 Aug;27(8):1314-1322. doi: 10.1002/oby.22526. Epub 2019 Jun 14.


Objective: Acetaminophen (paracetamol), a medication commonly used in pregnancy, has hormonal effects, as has been suggested in experimental studies. Developmental exposure to endocrine disruptors could predispose individuals to weight gain. This study evaluated the associations between prenatal acetaminophen exposure and overweight in childhood.

Methods: A total of 30,127 (age 7) and 24,934 (age 11) children in the Danish National Birth Cohort born during 1996 to 2002 were studied. Mothers reported acetaminophen use in telephone interviews conducted during pregnancy, and children's BMI and waist circumference were reported by parents at 7 and 11 years. Differences for BMI z score and waist circumference were estimated, as well as risk ratios for overweight in girls and boys adjusting for indications of use and other confounders.

Results: There were no consistent associations found for prenatal acetaminophen exposure and BMI z score or waist circumference in girls and boys at both ages. Prenatal acetaminophen exposure was associated with overweight in girls at age 11 (risk ratio 1.31, 95% CI: 1.10-1.56, if exposed in all three trimesters; P < 0.001 for cumulative weeks of exposure), but no association was found in boys.

Conclusions: There was no strong association between prenatal acetaminophen exposure and childhood BMI, but the findings on frequent prenatal exposure to acetaminophen and overweight in girls warrant further investigation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Denmark
  • Endocrine Disruptors / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Overweight / chemically induced*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / chemically induced*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Waist Circumference


  • Endocrine Disruptors
  • Acetaminophen