Aspirin and acetaminophen use by pregnant women and subsequent child IQ and attention decrements

Teratology. 1987 Apr;35(2):211-9. doi: 10.1002/tera.1420350207.


In a longitudinal prospective study of 1,529 women pregnant in 1974-1975, aspirin and acetaminophen were the two medications most frequently taken during the first half of pregnancy (46 and 41%, respectively). In a selected cohort of 421 offspring of these women, examined at 4 years of age, maternal aspirin use during the first half of pregnancy was significantly related to IQ and attention decrements in the exposed children. Multiple regression analyses were used to statistically adjust for a variety of potentially confounding factors including demographic characteristics, child characteristics, other exposures, and lifestyle/environmental variables. Continuous dose-response and step-function parameterizations of aspirin exposure were both statistically significant and not clearly distinguishable from each other. The estimated aspirin effect is significantly greater for girls than boys. Aspirin effects on offspring function were found in the absence of effects on physical size both at birth and at 4 years. Maternal acetaminophen use was not significantly related to child IQ or attention. As this exploratory research originated from observations of a data set gathered for other purposes, it would be desirable to have these findings replicated in other studies. Further follow-up of the children at a later age is planned.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / adverse effects*
  • Aspirin / adverse effects*
  • Attention / drug effects*
  • Behavior / drug effects
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Intelligence*
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious
  • Socioeconomic Factors


  • Acetaminophen
  • Aspirin