Investigating the Claim: Tylenol Causes Autism and ADHD

Intro to Tylenol Autism and ADHD Claims

On this page we’ll investigate the claim that Tylenol causes Autism and ADHD, discuss how studies have found that Acetaminophen exposure causes Autism in babies, provide an overview of the ongoing Tylenol Autism ADHD Lawsuit, and much more.

Tylenol Pregnany Lawsuit Overview

Thanks to a few studies that showed a correlation between Tylenol and neurodevelopmental disorders like autism, there’s been an increase in lawsuits that aim to hold drug manufacturers liable for these prenatal issues.

However, how valid are the claims?

Is the evidence against acetaminophen exposure strong enough that it may result in plaintiffs winning millions in a settlement?

TruLaw, your trusted source for mass tort lawsuit information and news, has done a deep dive into Tylenol and how it may increase the risk of autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnoses among newborn children.

Keep reading to learn more.

If you think that you have a case, please get in touch with us for a free evaluation.

Table of Contents

The Tylenol Autism/ADHD Lawsuit: An Overview

Cases started being filed by parents in 2022 thanks to the spread of research about how exposure to pain relievers heightened a child’s risk of developing various neurological issues inside the womb.

The plaintiffs aim to prove the liability of distributors like Walmart and CVS because they failed to provide adequate warnings about the increased risk of autism and ADHD for the unborn baby.

If the defendants are proven liable, they will need to pay a settlement or compensation for the damages the victims suffered.

While autism, ADHD, and other disorders are not life-threatening, they can result in great emotional difficulty and economic toll on parents and their children.

The latest Tylenol lawsuits, dealing with claims of a link between Tylenol use and autism, are currently being consolidated into a multi-district litigation (MDL).

This process is aimed at accelerating the legal proceedings by combining similar cases.

How MDL Simplifies Legal Process

The advantages of an MDL are manifold. Instead of individual trials for each case, the MDL format allows:

  • Few representative cases instead of many individual trials
  • Shared expenses for legal services among plaintiffs

The Role of Contingent Fee Arrangements

It’s noteworthy that the shared expense model becomes especially beneficial when lawyers involved do not follow a contingent fee arrangement.

This cost-saving approach allows more resources to be dedicated to the actual pursuit of justice.

Kids will need to undergo various tests and diagnostic evaluations.

There’s also the mental anguish and emotional aspect for parents, especially when it comes to dealing with the challenges of raising kids with autism or ADHD.

The lawsuit aims to provide families with financial reparations to cover previous, ongoing, and future treatments children will undergo thanks to their developmental disorders.

How will the lawyers prove the connection between autism, ADHD, and acetaminophen during pregnancy?

Here’s what we know about each aspect of the case.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism — or autism spectrum disorder — is a complex developmental disorder that starts to become more apparent in children as early as 18 months old.

According to Autism Speaks, this disorder is characterized by challenges in social skills, issues with speech and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors.

Since autism is a spectrum, the symptoms aren’t the same for every individual.

Those who have what’s considered high-functioning autism can lead conventional lives.

However, those on the other end of the spectrum can have symptoms that inhibit them from living normally.

Early Signs of Autism

According to the CDC, there are two broad categories of symptoms that may indicate if a child is on the autism spectrum.

These are social communication and interaction skills and restrictive or repetitive behaviors. Here are some of the signs to look for.

Social and Interaction Skills

  • Avoiding eye contact or failing to maintain it
  • Not showing any facial expressions of emotion, like happiness, surprise, and sadness
  • Not showing any interest in making friends with other children
  • Not sharing interests with adults and other children
  • Not responding to their name being called past nine months of age

Repetitive Behaviors

  • Lining up objects and getting upset if the order is disrupted
  • Repeating words, sounds, and phrases
  • Having obsessive interests

While these symptoms may not seem to hinder a child from living a normal life, autism usually escalates into delayed language skills, cognitive ability, and movement skills.

There are also physical symptoms like seizure disorder or gastrointestinal issues that come along with autism.

Thanks to these behaviors, patterns, and challenges, parents of children on the spectrum may need to find special schools to help kids learn and gain skills to navigate life.

Those who have more severe symptoms may never be able to become independent, relying on their family’s support their entire lives.

Current Known Causes of Autism

As far as medical science is concerned, there is currently no known single cause of autism.

Most researchers believe that several risk factors heighten the chances of a child developing autism.

These factors include:

  1. Genetic factors, such as a family history of ASD, genetic mutations, and Fragile X syndrome
  2. Age of parents when the child was born
  3. Fetal exposure to certain medications, such as valproic acid and possibly generic acetaminophen

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

The other disorder involved in the Tylenol lawsuit is ADHD.

According to the CDC, ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by issues with attention, compulsive behavior, and hyperactivity.

It’s also one of the most common developmental disorders affecting children.

Similar to autism, ADHD is a spectrum.

Those who have mild symptoms have developed workarounds and can function normally in life.

However, ADHD can be debilitating and chronic, affecting someone’s daily functioning as well as their academic, professional, and social life.

Early Signs of ADHD

There are three types of ADHD:

  1. The Inattentive Type;
  2. The Hyperactive Type; and
  3. The Combined Type.

Thanks to these varying classifications, it could be hard for parents to determine if their child has the disorder or not.

It’s always better to let a professional provide a diagnosis.

However, you can look out for the following symptoms if you think your child has some developmental disorder:

  • Not paying attention to details for tasks
  • Having trouble focusing on activities
  • Losing or forgetting things frequently
  • Fidgeting, being unable to relax
  • Interrupting others during conversations
  • Not being able to stay seated

Known Causes of ADHD

Like autism, there is no known singular cause of ADHD.

Most scientists do agree that genetics play a major role in the development of the disorder.

However, there is no specific gene identified as the single cause of ADHD.

Outside of genetic factors, premature birth and low birth weight have been thought to increase the risk of ADHD.

Toxin exposure in pregnancy is linked to the development of ADHD as well.

These toxins can be hard metals or pollutants resulting from smoking, drinking alcohol, and exposure to unhealthy environments.

Finally, there’s medication, with acetaminophen use currently being investigated as something that may affect child development.

What Is Acetaminophen or Tylenol

The final element of the Tylenol autism lawsuits is generic acetaminophen, the drug thought to affect fetal development.

Acetaminophen is one of the most common pain relievers available today, with the brand name Tylenol as one of the most popular products today.

Panadol is another well-known acetaminophen brand.

The use of acetaminophen is widespread because the drug is considered relatively safe compared to others like ibuprofen or aspirin.

However, acetaminophen is not as effective as other pain relievers, treating only mild to moderate pain.

Some people might take too much of it, but the dangerous dosage starts at 3,000 mg a day.

Since acetaminophen is currently known to have only mild effects, most doctors deem it safe for pregnant women to use.

The drug treats headaches, muscle aches, backaches, and other types of pain as well as fever.

In addition, limited medical alternatives exist for pregnant women, so the use of acetaminophen is widespread in this demographic.

Does Acetaminophen Exposure Cause Autism and ADHD in Pregnant Women?

While the link between pregnancy issues and acetaminophen has been investigated since 2018, most of the lawsuits began in 2022.

Is there a legitimate connection that prompted this rise in lawsuits, or is this movement just another small thing blown out of proportion?

What the Research Is Saying

The 2018 research was a meta-analysis — a systematic study that brings together data from various other research studies — published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

They found that while some of the studies showed a correlation between fetal development disorders and acetaminophen exposure, other articles showed no connection at all.

There’s also a study published by Johns Hopkins University.

This time around, the researchers analyzed data after studying umbilical cord blood samples.

They found that children who had the highest concentrations of acetaminophen in their umbilical cords were more likely to have some developmental disorder.

Still, this connection may be just a correlation.

There is currently no proof that acetaminophen exposure is the direct cause of developing autism or ADHD in the womb.

In 2021, another study called for precautionary action against the use of paracetamol during pregnancy.

The researchers cited the increasing body of studies that suggest the effects of the drug on pregnant women, and that number of animal and human scientific evidence is already too significant to ignore.

Is the Data Reliable?

One of the biggest concerns about misinterpreting research is how it can result in even more problems, especially for pregnant women.

The use of acetaminophen is one of the only safe methods to reduce fever in this demographic.

High body temperatures are dangerous, affecting fetal brain development of the fetus the first trimester of pregnancy.

Before you stop taking the drug, here are some flaws in the research to keep in mind:

  1. The women who were part of the study already had children with ADHD or autism. When interviewed about their use of acetaminophen, they might provide overestimations since they have a new possible culprit for a disorder they feel responsible for. This is called recall bias.
  2. A woman’s age during pregnancy must also be considered. Those who are above 35 years old have a higher chance of giving birth to children with neurodevelopmental disorders. Even though participants took acetaminophen during pregnancy, a more probable cause of their child developing autism could be the mom’s age.
  3. The reason why women were taking acetaminophen must also be considered. Fever, headaches, and other minor issues could be signs of bigger underlying problems, which then result in a child with neurodevelopmental issues.

What We Can Expect for the Upcoming Trials

As of writing, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not made any recalls or warnings about acetaminophen use during pregnancy.

They mentioned that studies are still too limited to make any definitive recommendations.

Therefore, more research is needed to establish the connection between Tylenol use and autism or ADHD.

These studies will then be used for the trials that will be instrumental in proving or disproving the liability of the defendants.

Of course, absolute certainty is not required in civil cases like the Tylenol lawsuits.

Lawyers only need to prove that the drug is more likely than not to result in autism or ADHD.

If the attorneys were able to prove this, then the ruling is more likely to be in favor of the plaintiffs.

What Is the Tylenol Autism Class Action Suit?

The new and current Tylenol lawsuits are being consolidated into a multi-district litigation (MDL) to make things move much faster.

Instead of trials for each individual case, there will be only a few representative cases.

In addition, the plaintiffs can share expenses for the legal services they received, especially if the lawyers they work with don’t follow a contingent fee arrangement.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is it true that Tylenol causes Autism?

    Several studies have suggested a potential link between pregant women using Tylenol (acetaminophen) and an increased risk for their babies to develop autism and/or ADHD.

    However, the topic is still under research.

  • What Is the Tylenol Autism Class Action Suit?

    The new and current Tylenol lawsuits are being consolidated into a multi-district litigation (MDL) to make things move much faster.

    Instead of trials for each individual case, there will be only a few representative cases.

    In addition, the plaintiffs can share expenses for the legal services they received, especially if the lawyers they work with don’t follow a contingent fee arrangement.

  • Do You Think You Have a Case?

    While there is still more research needed to prove the connection between fetal brain development disorders and the consumption of acetaminophen, families have a chance to get some form of reparation for what they’ve endured throughout the years.

    If you believe that you have a case against the distributors and manufacturers of Tylenol, then contact TruLaw today.

    We’ll work with you to find the right legal experts who can help with your case. Contact us now.

  • How Can I File a Tylenol Lawsuit?

    Do you think that your child’s autism spectrum disorder or ADHD is linked to your use of acetaminophen during pregnancy?

    You can file a case by working with a product liability lawyer.

    These professionals know what to do to build a strong case and represent you in a court of law when the trials begin.

    Be sure to gather evidence like medical records, receipts, and other types of evidence for your case.

Written By:
Jessie Paluch
Jessie Paluch

Experienced Attorney & Legal SaaS CEO

With over 25 years of legal experience, Jessie is an Illinois lawyer, a CPA, and a mother of three.  She spent the first decade of her career working as an international tax attorney at Deloitte.

In 2009, Jessie co-founded her own law firm with her husband – which has scaled to over 30 employees since its conception.

In 2016, Jessie founded TruLaw, which allows her to collaborate with attorneys and legal experts across the United States on a daily basis. This hypervaluable network of experts is what enables her to share reliable legal information with her readers!

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Have A Case?

Here, at Tru Lawsuit Info, we’re committed to helping victims get the justice they deserve.

To do this, we actively work to connect them with attorneys who are experts in litigating cases similar to theirs.

Would you like our help?