Blog: Tylenol and Autism

December 21, 2022
Blog: Tylenol and Autism

Many mothers did not think twice about taking Tylenol while pregnant. Care providers may have even told them that Tylenol, or acetaminophen, offered a safer form of pain relief while pregnant than other over-the-counter medications. Unfortunately, new studies may have brought Tylenol use during pregnancy into question.

For more information on the Tylenol Autism Lawsuit, contact Dolman Law Group for a free consultiaotn today.

What Is Autism?

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), falls into the category of developmental disabilities. This disability most notably impacts the way people communicate and interact socially. It often causes people to focus intensely on some key interests or to engage in repetitive movements.

Autism may lead to some social and emotional challenges, including delayed language skills, hyperactive or impulsive behavior, and non-typical eating and sleeping habits, including specific food preferences, texture concerns, or difficulty sleeping. Autism can have a heavy impact on both the lives of people diagnosed with it and their families.

What Causes Autism?

Science has not yet identified any one cause of autism.

Autism, or autism spectrum disorders, may occur more often in people who:

  • Already have a sibling with an autism spectrum disorder, which suggests a potential genetic correlation
  • Suffer complications at birth
  • Have older parents
  • Face exposure to certain environmental factors, particularly factors in the womb before birth

ASD may also occur more often in people with other genetic or chromosomal conditions.

Does Tylenol Increase The Risk of Autism?

Tylenol is a common pain reliever used by many people, including pregnant women. Most people feel relatively confident in acetaminophen use, particularly since doctors tend to recommend it over other pain relievers during pregnancy and infancy. Infants can use Tylenol at a younger age than ibuprofen, for example. However, this popular product may not offer the level of safety most people believe it holds.

Prenatal Acetaminophen Use and Autism

Tylenol during pregnancy does not necessarily cause autism. However, consuming Tylenol and other acetaminophen-containing products during pregnancy may, according to a study by the National Institutes of Health and the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality, increase the risk that the infant will go on to develop autism or ADHD.

Researchers divided the level of acetaminophen exposure at birth into three tiers. The middle tier of exposure had 2.14 times the risk of the lowest third, while the risk of developing ASD was 3.62 times higher for the children in the highest tier.

While that increase does rely on prolonged exposure, it can cause serious problems for many children and their families. Before this study, doctors recommended using acetaminophen during pregnancy to deal with headaches and other common aches and pains. Unfortunately, expectant mothers who used it regularly may have increased their children’s risk of developing ADHD or autism spectrum disorder.

Postnatal Acetaminophen Use and Autism

After birth, the risk of developing autism due to Tylenol use does not disappear. A study of children given acetaminophen after their MMR vaccine, compared to children given ibuprofen, found that children with autism had a six times greater likelihood of having taken acetaminophen after the MMR vaccine, including Tylenol. Children with autism were also more likely to have an adverse reaction to the MMR vaccine.

The Rise in Autism Diagnoses

Autism prevalence seems to have increased dramatically over the past several years, beginning, in part, following the shift to acetaminophen for fever control and pain in children in the 1980s, when the CDC noted a potential link between aspirin and Reye’s syndrome.

Autism prevalence increased by 30 percent between 2008 and 2017. It may have continued to increase even more in recent years. The increase in autism diagnosis, however, may relate to many things, including:

Increased Screening

Many screening tests for children now include screening for autism. As a result, children prove more likely to receive that autism diagnosis at critical times in their lives.

Lifestyle

Modern life may prove more uncomfortable for people with autism spectrum disorders. Patients with autism disorders often have a hard time coping with bright lights or intense stimuli. Unfortunately, many parts of modern society that end up taken for granted involve that kind of stimulation, which can prove difficult for children and adults with autism to experience.

Awareness

People have grown much more aware of autism spectrum disorder and its criteria. As a result, they may feel much more confident evaluating symptoms in themselves and their children and pursuing treatment for those conditions when necessary.

Can You Get Compensation for Your Child’s Autism Diagnosis?

Increasingly, parents pursue compensation for an autism diagnosis linked to Tylenol consumption. Can you get compensation for a child’s autism diagnosis that may have occurred due to acetaminophen exposure, either during pregnancy or infancy? In many cases, yes. Lawsuits now hold Johnson & Johnson and the manufacturers of generic acetaminophen liable for the damages caused by Tylenol and acetaminophen consumption during pregnancy.

Manufacturers did nothing to warn acetaminophen users, including pregnant women, about the potential dangers associated with acetaminophen consumption. As a result, many women chose to use acetaminophen for themselves, or families chose to use it for their children without worrying about potential side effects.

Unfortunately, those side effects later came to light, and families may have the right to compensation for those damages. Some people have even described autism as a type of brain damage potentially caused by acetaminophen use.

The amount of compensation you can recover may depend on several factors.

What financial damages can you show due to your child’s autism diagnosis?

Having your child evaluated for autism can prove long, complicated, and expensive. While many children go through initial screenings at school or in the pediatrician’s office, their families may still have a long road to fully identifying an autism spectrum disorder and pursuing treatment for it. Those medical bills can add up significantly.

In addition, many children with autism will go through considerable treatment, often regularly. Children, especially those with severe autism spectrum disorder, may need treatment involving multiple appointments a week with a qualified behavioral therapist.

Patients with autism may need to go through considerable therapy to help them learn how to tolerate things that other people may take for granted, like managing food textures or interacting socially. Those therapies can prove very financially taxing for many families.

You may also want to talk to your lawyer about any other financial difficulties your family may have faced due to an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis.

For example, your family may have:

  • Required ongoing care for a child with autism spectrum disorder, including specialized care
  • Lost out on employment for one parent because that parent needed to stay home as a caregiver
  • Purchased specialty equipment for your child, including communication equipment related to the disorder

You may also talk to your lawyer about earning potential your child may have missed out on because of an autism spectrum diagnosis and how that could contribute to your right to file a claim.

What non-financial damages did your family suffer from your child’s autism diagnosis?

Having a child with an autism spectrum disorder can change your family’s life. Depending on your child’s specific challenges and limitations, you may find it difficult to engage in the same activities you would have before that diagnosis. You may have to miss out on vacations or large gatherings. The parents of autistic children often struggle with a variety of challenges of their own, including increased anxiety and depression. Furthermore, the parents of children with autism may have a higher risk of divorce than parents who do not have disabled children.

Talk to your lawyer about how your child’s autism spectrum diagnosis has impacted your family, including any challenges that diagnosis may have caused in your relationship with your spouse or other children. While financial compensation may not repair those damages, it can provide your family with much-needed funds.

What Should You Do if Your Child Has an ASD Diagnosis?

If you suspect your child has an autism spectrum disorder caused or exacerbated by Tylenol use during pregnancy or infancy, your family may deserve compensation. However, you may need to carefully protect that right to compensation as you work to maximize the damages your family can recover.

Get a clear medical diagnosis. Often, your child may have symptoms of an autism spectrum disorder, but you may not have a diagnosis. You may have decided not to pursue a diagnosis for mild symptoms, or you may not want to put in the time to pursue the diagnosis. However, to file a claim for compensation for an autism spectrum disorder, you must clearly establish that your child has an autism spectrum disorder.

Work with your child’s medical care team to get a clear diagnosis. A therapist can assess whether your child meets the diagnostic criteria for autism and give you more information about your next steps.

Establish the frequency of acetaminophen use during pregnancy or your child’s infancy. Establishing how often you used that medication so long ago can be difficult. You likely do not have receipts or other proof of acetaminophen use. Talk to a lawyer about how often you used Tylenol during your pregnancy or what your doctor recommended following your child’s vaccines or other medical treatment. Your lawyer can help give you a better idea of what evidence you need.

In general, evidence may include:

  • Any diagnosis regarding pain or other problems during pregnancy
  • Your doctor’s recommendations regarding pain medication use during pregnancy, including any informational forms your doctor may have provided
  • Notes from your pregnancy about any problems you may have had, including notes about headaches or ongoing pain
  • Records showing early signs of illness and high fever in your child, including fevers likely treated with acetaminophen

Remember that minor acetaminophen has not shown evidence of increasing autism risk, so you may need to work with your lawyer to lay out your overall consumption clearly.

Talk to a lawyer about your child’s diagnosis and your right to compensation. If you have a child with an autism spectrum disorder, a lawyer can help you understand the steps to pursue compensation for your child’s diagnosis and the challenges your family has faced. Trying to handle that claim on your own can prove daunting. Despite a clear precedent of other families receiving compensation following an autism spectrum diagnosis, many families struggle to have their voices heard.

Personal Injury Lawyer
Matt Dolman, Tylenol Injury Lawyer

A lawyer can help streamline the legal process and maximize the compensation you can recover.

  • A lawyer can help collect evidence that may help establish an autism diagnosis or that you used a Tylenol product during pregnancy or your child’s infancy.
  • A lawyer can provide you with more insight into what compensation you can ask for, including collecting records of the expenses associated with diagnosing and treating a child’s autism spectrum disorder.
  • A lawyer can take on the insurance company on your behalf, allowing you to focus on your child while feeling confident that someone will hear your case and fight for the compensation you deserve.

In many cases, working with a lawyer can increase the compensation you can recover for your child’s autism spectrum diagnosis. Many families have found that working with a lawyer makes it easier for them to establish their right to compensation.

Did your child receive an autism spectrum diagnosis that you believe links back to Tylenol use? A Tylenol injury lawyer can help you go over your rights and fight for the compensation your family deserves. Contact an mass tort attorney to discuss your potential right to compensation and the steps to protect your family’s financial rights.

Matthew Dolman

Clearwater Personal Injury and Insurance Attorney

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess or $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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