Lawsuits Connecting Tylenol to Autism and ADHD Continues to Grow

Lawsuits Connecting Tylenol to Autism and ADHD Continues to Grow

The number of people who learn about the connection between their children’s condition and Tylenol use during pregnancy is growing rapidly.

The study linking acetaminophen (brand name—Tylenol) to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) initiated numerous lawsuits. Hundreds more are likely to appear in the near future.

After a child’s birth, ASD and ADHD can take a while to diagnose. The more time passes, the more parents discover that their children have one of these conditions. Eventually, they turn to filing lawsuits.

In 2022, the federal court certified a Tylenol class action lawsuit in New York. Now all Tylenol lawsuits filed in federal court will become a part of this legal action. If a settlement is offered, all participants have a chance of recovering compensation that can help support the affected children.

Tylenol Lawsuit History

For many decades, doctors considered acetaminophen one of the safest pain-relief medications for pregnant women. While it seemed to be safe for the mother, the drug may have been having an adverse effect on the fetus.

A study conducted at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health back in 2019 revealed the possible connection between acetaminophen and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder along with autism spectrum disorder.

Since then, the number of lawsuits has been increasing steadily. More and more people started realizing that Tylenol they took to deal with headaches and other pain during pregnancy may have negatively affected their children.

According to numerous plaintiffs, the manufacturer of the drug didn’t issue proper warnings and misled pregnant women. This may qualify as negligent behavior. If plaintiffs manage to prove negligence in this case, they gain an opportunity to recover sizable compensation.

Tylenol, Autism, and ADHD: What’s the Connection?

Over 50 percent of women use acetaminophen during pregnancy. If you Google “is Tylenol safe during pregnancy,” the top answer will be “yes.” While doctors warn pregnant women to minimize the use of any drugs, they still say that Tylenol is generally safe.

Since ibuprofen, the other common over-the-counter pain reliever, isn’t recommended during pregnancy, women usually turn to Tylenol.

The study conducted by John Hopkins University and funded by the National Institutes of Health established a link between acetaminophen and ASD and ADHD.

The study appeared in JAMA Psychiatry medical journal.

  • ADHD. Hyperactivity and impulsive behavior that interferes with a person’s daily activities and hinders their performance in school or at work.
  • ASD. A developmental disorder that affects the way a person acts, learns, and socializes.

Both conditions can have a serious impact on a person’s quality of life and their ability to integrate into society.

Researchers from John Hopkins University looked at the data collected during another study called Boston Birth Cohort. This long-term study looked at a number of factors that had an impact on pregnancy and child development.

Scientists collected blood from umbilical cords and checked for traces of acetaminophen.

They found that:

  • 8 percent of children who had acetaminophen in the umbilical cord blood developed ADHD by the time they turned eight to nine years old.
  • 6 percent of children developed ASD
  • 2 percent had both ADHD and ASD

The more acetaminophen and byproducts appear in the blood, the higher the risk of developing these conditions. While the results of this study warrant further research, women should exercise extra caution when using Tylenol during pregnancy.

While both the FDA and manufacturers mention that each woman should discuss the benefits of using pain relievers during pregnancy with her doctor, ASD and ADHD aren’t on the list of side effects.

Two years later, two meta-analyses (a statistical analysis that combines the results of several studies) published in the European Journal of Epidemiology confirmed the previous study. One analysis looked at seven studies and found that for women who took Tylenol during pregnancy, the risk of their child developing ASD is 19 percent higher, while the risk of developing ADHD is 34 percent higher.

The second analysis looked at eight different studies and found that children whose mothers used acetaminophen during pregnancy had a 25 percent higher chance of developing ADHD than those who didn’t.

Older Evidence

The latest studies conducted in 2019 and 2021 are hardly the only evidence that connects acetaminophen to neurological and developmental disorders. Back in 2014, a study published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics pointed out the connection.

The study looked at over 64,000 women who were part of another study. Around 50 percent of them used acetaminophen during pregnancy. This research found that the risk of children whose mothers took Tylenol during pregnancy developing ADHD and other neurodevelopmental disorders was high.

Back then, researchers were already worried about the rapid increase in ADHD diagnoses in children. One of the reasons may have been the use of Tylenol, which doctors considered a safe option for pain relief during pregnancy.

How Does Tylenol Cause ADHD and Autism?

Scientists are yet to discover the exact cause of ADHD and autism. Some talk about genetics. Others look at environmental factors. It will take some time to understand why exactly using Tylenol affects the child’s risk of developing this condition.

During this time, parents may face extra expenses related to education, treatment, and care. The costs of raising a child with special needs are tremendous. For example, the lifetime cost of autism can exceed $2 million per person.

If the manufacturer’s negligence caused a child to develop these costly conditions, parents and children may be entitled to compensation.

The high cost of supporting a child with neurological and developmental disorders is one of the reasons why so many parents are filing lawsuits. The other reason is awareness. If women know that taking Tylenol can cause ASD or ADHD, they are likely to make different pain relief choices during pregnancy.

Will the Number of Lawsuits Against the Tylenol Manufacturer Continue Growing?

The short answer is yes. Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability in the world. In the U.S., one in every 44 children is born with this disorder. While the main reason behind the condition is currently unknown, the number of factors that contribute to ASD seems to be increasing.

As parents discover the link between Tylenol and autism, they can dig further to find evidence of their taking Tylenol during pregnancy. This type of evidence can serve as proof in a Tylenol lawsuit.

In the United States, one in 11 children between four and 17 has ADHD. The average age of diagnosis is six years old. As more and more children receive the diagnosis, parents can link it to acetaminophen use during pregnancy and file lawsuits.

This class action lawsuit has the potential to become one of the largest in United States history.

Can I File a Tylenol Lawsuit?

Many people may not know they can file a Tylenol lawsuit.

To recover compensation from Tylenol’s manufacturer, you need to prove:

  • You took acetaminophen during the second or third trimester of your pregnancy (starting week 13 and until birth).
  • Your child is diagnosed with ASD and ADHD.

The duration of Tylenol use may also affect your eligibility for filing a lawsuit. Since studies link higher doses and longer treatment duration to higher risks of developing ASD and ADHD, it can be easier to prove your case if you can show you’ve been taking Tylenol for an extended period.

People who have taken Tylenol once or twice during their pregnancy may not have enough usage for an opportunity to receive a settlement. Consistent use of acetaminophen can make it easier to prove your case.

Children Born After March 26, 2020

On March 26, 2020, the CARES act finalized FDA labeling rules for over the counter medicines, requiring manufacturers to include a specific warning on acetaminophen-containing products.

After that date, the manufacturer could not include any additional warnings on the label regarding the risk to pregnant women. Accordingly, if you gave birth after March 2020, you may not be eligible for the lawsuit since the manufacturer was unable to provide any warning on their products. However, since all cases are different, consider getting a professional legal opinion.

If you think that you are eligible to file this lawsuit, you may want to speak to an attorney. Going against a pharmaceutical giant can involve many nuances that only a legal professional can manage.

So far, there haven’t been any settlements in Tylenol-related autism and ADHD lawsuits. It’s possible for such cases to take a significant time to reach a conclusion. However, as the number of lawsuits is mounting, the process is likely to gain some speed in the near future.

How Much to Expect from a Tylenol Lawsuit

All Tylenol lawsuits are currently in progress. This means that none have yet settled or gone to court. That’s why it’s hard to evaluate the exact amount victims can expect to recover. However, you can ask your attorney to give you an approximation based on your specific losses.

The amount you may be able to recover in a Tylenol lawsuit depends on different factors, including:

  • Evidence of Tylenol use. You would need to prove that you’ve been taking Tylenol during pregnancy. To do that, you can show pharmacy receipts and doctors’ recommendations. Eyewitness testimony may also be acceptable.
  • Evidence of your child’s condition. You would have to provide documents that confirm your child’s ASD or ADHD diagnosis. Doctors’ reports should be sufficient.
  • Evidence of damages. You would have to prove that your child’s diagnosis led to specific damages, such as costly treatment. You would have to provide doctors’ reports, prescriptions, and other related evidence, including at-home care expenses.

The strength of the evidence you can provide can reflect the amount you can recover. Besides demanding compensation for your direct expenses, you can sue the manufacturer for pain and suffering.

Pain and suffering in Tylenol cases include emotional and physical stress you face due to the consequences of acetaminophen use. Since your child developed a serious condition that has a sizable effect on the family’s quality of life, there is a possibility to recover sizable compensation.

The final amount can also depend heavily on the experience and tenacity of the attorney you work with. A reliable lawyer is more likely to maximize your settlement by helping you collect evidence, filing all documents correctly, and making a strong case.

How to File a Lawsuit Against Tylenol Manufacturer

If you believe that you are eligible for a Tylenol lawsuit:

  • Consult an attorney to evaluate your case and decide whether it’s worth pursuing
  • Gather all the relevant evidence, including eyewitness and expert witness testimony
  • File the lawsuit

Next, you would have to wait until the case plays out.

The two possible outcomes of the Tylenol Autism and ADHD lawsuit include:

  • Settlement. The pharmaceutical giant decides to settle and pays you a certain amount. The size of this amount depends on many factors, including how long you took Tylenol, evidence of losses, and negotiating skill.
  • Trial. If you can’t reach an agreement with the Tylenol manufacturer, the case can proceed to trial. The judge and the jury will decide if they owe you compensation and if so, how much.

While going to the trial is more complicated, time-consuming, and often stressful, jury payouts can be higher than settlements. No matter which route your case may take, working against large pharmaceutical companies can be complicated and drawn out. Be prepared for an extended process that will require patience.

Tylenol Isn’t the Only One

While Tylenol is the most popular brand name for acetaminophen, other medications contain this ingredient as well. If you haven’t used Tylenol but took Excedrin, Theraflu, NyQuil, Panadol, Midol, and other meds that contained acetaminophen, you may file a lawsuit.

More and more people are filing lawsuits against the Tylenol manufacturer. As children of mothers who took Tylenol during pregnancy grow older and diagnoses increase, the number of claims may rise.

Each week brings new developments in Tylenol cases. Following them closely can help you stay up to date and take appropriate action. Contact an experienced product liability attorney who can guide you through the legal process and keep tabs on the progress of these actions across the country.


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

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 of $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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