Parents of children with autism and ADHD recently learned that taking acetaminophen during pregnancy may have increased the risk of their children developing those devastating symptoms.
Now, thousands of parents across the country have already filed claims, and even more continue to come in as parents hold Tylenol and other companies manufacturing these products liable for the years of marketing they did on these products without disclosing the potential danger. Doctors may even have recommended Tylenol as the “safe” medication to take during pregnancy to alleviate headaches, aches, and pains related to pregnancy.
As those claims increase, the U.S. District Judge responsible for handling the federal ADHD and autism Tylenol claims has recently approved a streamlined process for families who need to file claims against the makers of those products.
MDL (Multidistrict Litigation)
Multidistrict litigation centralizes lawsuits related to a specific topic or issue. In the case of the Tylenol Autism and ADHD lawsuit, which includes the makers of Equate brand acetaminophen-containing products and other manufacturers of similar products, this centralizes the lawsuits in one place so that they can all go through the same processes.
Complaints include those against manufacturers and retailers of acetaminophen products that did not offer an adequate warning about the challenges taking their product during pregnancy could present.
- Johnson & Johnson (the maker of Tylenol)
Other companies that market and sell their acetaminophen-containing products may also face lawsuits related to Tylenol and an autism or ADHD diagnosis. The primary claim goes against Johnson & Johnson for widespread Tylenol use since Tylenol often gets marketed as the safest pain reliever during pregnancy.
The multi-district litigation order lays out several key details.
By December 16, 2022, the Plaintiffs Must File Two Master Complaints.
The plaintiffs needed to put together a Master Complaint that laid out the damages caused by Tylenol/Johnson & Johnson and the damages caused by other retailers. As part of these master complaints, plaintiffs needed to propose a Short Form Complaint that would allow plaintiffs to use a set of the allegations from a Master Complaint, then add details about their own families’ struggles, to file an ADHD or autism Tylenol lawsuit in the future.
Plaintiffs Can Use the Short Form Complaint to Lay Out the Details of Their Own Complaints.
On December 2, 2022, Judge Cote issued an order that allows for the direct filing of those Short Form Complaints. These complaints should go directly through the Southern District of New York.
How the Short Form Complaint Helps Families
Filing a Short Form Complaint can offer a number of advantages for families intending to move forward with a Tylenol autism or ADHD lawsuit.
- It streamlines the process. Filing a lawsuit can prove incredibly complex, particularly as plaintiffs pull together the evidence they need related to the claim. With a Short Form Complaint, the court has acknowledged the connection between Tylenol/acetaminophen use during pregnancy and the development of ADHD or autism. The ability to file a direct complaint means that the process will move more quickly, which may save time, effort, and money for many families affected by an ADHD or autism diagnosis.
- It helps cut unnecessary expenses. Lawsuits can prove very expensive. Families often have to juggle the demands of that lawsuit with their ongoing financial needs. Unfortunately, many families may not have the funds to establish the proof they need. By allowing the direct filing of those lawsuits with a short form complaint, the court helps cut down on the cost family members may face as they file a lawsuit on behalf of their children.
How a Lawyer Can Help
The direct filing regulations on the ADHD and Autism Tylenol lawsuits do not mean that families can forego legal assistance as they manage their claims.
A Lawyer Can Help Present Evidence of Your Family’s Specific Losses.
ADHD and autism can both lead to considerable expenses for families. A family’s specific legal costs may depend on the individual child’s challenges and the severity of the child’s condition. For example, a child with mild symptoms of autism may spend time in therapy but otherwise attend normal classes or have normal interactions with peers and family members.
On the other hand, a child with more severe symptoms may need to go through consistent, ongoing therapy. Parents may have to consider the cost of specialized childcare, especially if the child has any comorbidities.
Furthermore, some families may have other expenses.
- Diapers and other medical devices
- Out-of-pocket medical care expenses
- Broken items in the home
- Caregivers, especially in the case of children who may need round-the-clock care
Children with autism may also have a higher risk of developing a number of comorbid conditions, particularly neurological conditions. Patients with autism may have a high risk of suffering from sleep disorders, migraines, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, food intolerances, and constipation disorders. As a result, parents may have ongoing medical expenses related to those disorders to contend with.
A Lawyer Can Help Make Sure That Families Understand Their Rights.
Dealing with a devastating diagnosis in a child can prove difficult enough. Parents whose children have faced an autism or ADHD diagnosis due to acetaminophen use during pregnancy may contend with many struggles as they try to move forward with a lawsuit. They may worry that the jury will not offer the verdict they need. A lawyer, however, can help families understand their rights and push for the compensation they deserve.
A Lawyer Can Help Fight on an Individual Family’s Behalf.
Right now, the judge in charge of the Tylenol and ADHD/autism claim intends to put a small group of representative claims before a jury to better understand how those juries might respond to the claims, including the link between Tylenol and autism or ADHD.
These bellwether programs will help determine what results families might face when they file a claim on behalf of their children. In some cases, however, those claims may go back to the original U.S. District court where the family initially filed the claim. No matter how the claim gets presented, a lawyer can help negotiate on the family’s behalf and ensure that each family has its story heard.
The ADHD/Autism and Tylenol During Pregnancy Link
The Boston Birth Cohort looked closely at many factors that could potentially impact pregnancy and child development. The study looked at umbilical cord blood from 996 separate births, then measured the acetaminophen and its byproducts from those samples.
Researchers found that between 8 and 9 years old, around 25.8 percent of those children had received an ADHD diagnosis, 6.6 percent had received an autism diagnosis, and 4.2 percent of the children involved in the study had received both ADHD and autism diagnoses.
The researchers looked at how acetaminophen levels correlated with the diagnoses in the study. The highest third of the sample, which contained more acetaminophen and its byproducts, had a 2.86 times higher risk of developing ADHD than those in the lower third. Likewise, the children in the highest third had a 3.62 times greater risk of developing autism than those in the lowest third.
Due to these results and other exams, the FDA recommends that parents carefully gauge the potential risk of any pain reliever use during pregnancy, including over-the-counter products like acetaminophen. However, even children in the lowest third of use, those whose mothers did not use acetaminophen during pregnancy, may still have a risk of developing ADHD or autism.
Diagnosis of both ADHD and autism have increased considerably over the past 40 years. Increased acetaminophen use may help explain some of that increase. However, symptoms of ADHD and autism may also appear more obvious in today’s fast-paced, technology-based society. Due to the constant stimulation of screens, large cities, and modern-day input, symptoms of ADHD and autism may appear more obvious in some children than in the past. Increased awareness of symptoms may also help explain the increase in diagnoses.
Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism spectrum disorder, also known as ASD, occurs due to differences in the brain, which may develop during pregnancy or early childhood. Many people with ASD struggle with social behaviors, including normal interaction.
They may show some symptoms that alert parents to the potential dangers.
- Lack of eye contact
- Changed or flat facial expressions
- Engages in repetitive or restrictive behaviors
Patients with autism spectrum disorder may also show several other common characteristics. They may suffer from delayed language skills, delayed cognitive skills, or delayed learning. They may also suffer from hyperactive behaviors, a high level of impulsivity, or delayed overall movement. They may also have unique eating and sleeping habits, leaving their parents struggling. Patients with autism spectrum disorder may also suffer from increased anxiety and stress or have difficulty dealing with excessive worries.
Patients with autism spectrum disorder may display their own symptoms, depending on the severity of the disorder and the challenges each unique individual faces. While some patients may show severe symptoms and deficits in a particular area, others may have more mild symptoms or symptoms that manifest differently.
Symptoms of ADHD
Children with ADHD may suffer from several common symptoms.
Most notably, they often:
- Have trouble maintaining attention on tasks, including tasks the child would generally enjoy
- Struggle to pay close attention to details
- Make simple/careless mistakes in their work or chores
- Has trouble following multi-step instructions
- Struggle to stay still or seated for a long period
- Talk excessively
Children with ADHD may have highly focused interests, which they may pursue with a high degree of hyperfocus. Some children, especially girls, may end up misdiagnosed or undiagnosed because they do not show signs of hyperactivity. However, ADHD often involves seeming “daydreaming” or an inability to focus and pay attention, rather than the hyperactivity that many people associate with the condition. While some children end up diagnosed early due to hyperactivity, others may face a diagnosis only later in life.
What to Do if You Suspect Your Child Has ADHD or Autism Related to Acetaminophen Use During Pregnancy
Discovering that your child has any diagnosis can be devastating for many parents.
However, you can protect your child and seek compensation for the damages your family had to deal with.
- Get a medical diagnosis for your child. You may have to have a full medical diagnosis for your child to pursue compensation. Some parents of children with ADHD, for example, may have teachers who automatically compensate for their needs or provide modifications without a diagnosis. Others may want to avoid a diagnosis because they do not want to medicate and have not pursued therapy for the child. However, failure to seek a medical diagnosis can make it very difficult to get compensation. Instead, go through the process to have your child formally diagnosed.
- Consult an attorney as soon as possible. Do not try to handle your claim on your own. You may want to act quickly to ensure that you can financially protect your family with an ADHD or autism and Tylenol claim. A lawyer can provide you with more information about the claim process, including what information you may need to present to get the compensation your family deserves.
- Gather relevant documents. You may need to show proof of your child’s diagnosis and evidence of any related bills and expenses.
If you suspect your child has ADHD or autism, or if you already have a diagnosis, and you think that diagnosis relates back to acetaminophen use during pregnancy, your family may have the right to compensation. Contact a lawyer to learn more about your next steps.