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Tylenol Autism Lawsuits: Legal Options and What to Know

Tens of thousands of mothers have joined a class action lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and several national retailers. The mothers argue that using Tylenol during pregnancy led to their children being born with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or other developmental disorders.

Acetaminophen relieves pain and is the primary ingredient in more than 600 medicines. About 50 million Americans use acetaminophen products each week. Tylenol is one of the most popular acetaminophen-based products. Health professionals previously recommended acetaminophen for pain relief rather than aspirin or ibuprofen, which has been linked to fetal organ damage.

ASD is a complex developmental disorder that affects how people communicate and interact with one another, learn, and behave. ADHD is characterized by the inability to focus, excessive movement, and impulsivity.

What Are the Tylenol Autism Lawsuits?

The Tylenol autism ADHD lawsuit alleges that Johnson & Johnson, which markets Tylenol, and several national retailers failed to warn pregnant women that research indicated that Tylenol usage during pregnancy increased the child’s risk of developing ASD or ADHD. The actions began as individual lawsuits; however, a federal Judicial Panel consolidated the acetaminophen lawsuits into a mass multidistrict litigation (MDL) to be heard in the District of New York. In an MDL, individuals with the same characteristics can present their cases in one court. The MDL makes filing Tylenol lawsuits easier for the victims.

The Tylenol autism class action will hear cases where pregnant women took Tylenol or generic acetaminophen during pregnancy and had babies with an ASD or ADHD diagnosis. The Tylenol lawsuits allege:

  • J&J and the retailers failed to warn women of the dangers of acetaminophen use during pregnancy.
  • The companies were negligent.
  • The companies breached implied and express warranties.

Retailers in the Tylenol autism lawsuit claim include Costco, CVS, Rite-Aid, Target, Safeway, Walmart, and Walgreens. Drug manufacturers are excluded from the lawsuit. The defendants opposed the consolidation of the cases into a Tylenol class action lawsuit.

The retail defendants and Johnson & Johnson have repeatedly sought dismissal of the Tylenol lawsuit. They argue they should be immune to liability for failing to warn of health risks because they cannot update the drug warning label without FDA approval. They also say that evidence is insufficient to prove that prenatal exposure to acetaminophen causes autism and ADHD.

Why Do the Acetaminophen Autism Lawsuits Exist?

The basis for the lawsuits is new scientific evidence. Several studies, including one funded by the National Institutes of Health, support a link between prenatal acetaminophen exposure and ADHD and ASD.

NIH Study

The NIH study analyzed long-term data from the Boston Birth Cohort and used umbilical cord blood samples from 996 births. The study categorized the samples into thirds based on the amount of acetaminophen each cord blood sample contained. Researchers found that the middle-third group of acetaminophen exposure was 2.26 times more likely to develop ADHD and 2.14 times more likely to develop autism spectrum disorder than the lower group. The higher group had 2.86 times the risk of developing ADHD and 3.62 times the risk of ASD.

JAMA Pediatrics

JAMA Pediatrics study found links between the use of Tylenol or generic acetaminophen during pregnancy and altered fetal brain development. That research used a cohort of 345 children.

Nature Reviews Endocrinology

2021 review study in Nature Reviews Endocrinology suggests a link between acetaminophen use and reproductive and neurobehavioural abnormalities in both men and women. The review, which 100 doctors support, also found evidence linking prenatal acetaminophen with “adverse neurodevelopmental and behavioural outcomes, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder, language delay (in girls), and decreased intelligence quotient.” The group urged doctors and agencies to change their advice about pregnant women and their use of Tylenol or acetaminophen products.

American Journal of Epidemiology

Long-term research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology concluded that acetaminophen exposure leads to a 20 percent to 30 percent increased risk for neurological disorders. The research studied 132,738 pairs of mothers and children for three to 11 years.

The emerging research led to several product liability lawsuits. Tylenol autism lawyers expect that as many as 100,000 people may seek to join the ongoing Tylenol autism MDL.

What Legal Options Are Available To Those Affected?

Mothers who used acetaminophen during pregnancy and whose children have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder ASD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD can join the Tylenol lawsuit. They will have a stronger claim if they prove extended acetaminophen use during pregnancy. Lack of family history of neurodevelopmental disorders also will strengthen the case.

An Example

Here is an example of a potentially strong Tylenol Autism ADHD lawsuit.

The mother took Tylenol or generic acetaminophen during pregnancy as a pain reliever for a chronic condition, assuming it was the safest analgesic. She knows where she bought the drug. The drug bottle lacked any warning label about Tylenol use during pregnancy.

The mother had no pregnancy or delivery complications; however, at 18 months, her baby was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.

Evidence Required to Support a Tylenol Autism Lawsuit Claim

To be successful with a Tylenol autism lawsuit claim, the plaintiff will need to demonstrate that acetaminophen use likely caused the autism or ADHD. Potential plaintiffs can strengthen or weaken their claims with certain types of evidence.

Why Was Acetaminophen Used?

In reviewing Tylenol autism lawsuits, attorneys will want to understand the reasons for acetaminophen usage during pregnancy. For example, did the mother use acetaminophen during pregnancy to relieve pain from a chronic condition, or did she use it only occasionally for discomfort? Attorneys can use this information to develop a theory about the length of time the mother may have used the drug and the dosage. Higher dosages and greater frequency are associated with a more significant risk of fetal developmental disorders. Mothers who took fewer than ten doses of acetaminophen during pregnancy may not necessarily qualify to join the Tylenol autism lawsuit.

When Was the Acetaminophen Used?

The timing of the acetaminophen use is also critical. Fetal development is most critical during the second and third trimesters.

What circumstances surrounded the birth?

Factors other than acetaminophen exposure, such as loss of oxygen during birth, can increase the risk of autism and ADHD. To understand whether the circumstances of the birth may have caused the disorder, attorneys will want to know whether the baby was delivered vaginally or via C-section and whether any oxygen loss occurred.

Attorneys will also want to know whether the child sustained injuries during birth. Some injuries can increase the risk of ASD, ADHD, or other neurological disorders.

Attorneys also will ask about whether the child was carried full term. Children born before the 26th week of pregnancy would be at a higher risk of developing autism or ADHD even if their mother did not take Tylenol.

What Was the Mother’s Health Condition?

Certain health conditions can put the mother at risk of pregnancy complications and increase the risk of a neurological disorder in the child even without Tylenol use. Attorneys will want to screen for these conditions, which include:

  • Gestational diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Infections during pregnancy requiring hospitalization

Women who experienced these conditions may not be eligible to file Tylenol autism lawsuits. Also, women who used Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or other types of antidepressants may be unable to join the Tylenol autism lawsuit because research has linked these drugs with increased risk for ASD in children. Women older than 39 when they gave birth also may be excluded from the lawsuit because age is also a risk factor for ASD.

How Severe Are ADHD or AuTISM SPECTRUM Disorder Symptoms?

Tylenol attorneys will also want to know the severity of the ADHD or autism spectrum symptoms and how the disorder affects their lives. For example, does the child take medication? Do they require an Individualized Education Plan or similar accommodation? They will also want to understand whether other disorders or conditions cause the child to need accommodation.

Were Other Drugs or Tobacco Used During Pregnancy?

The use of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs during pregnancy also may not necessarily be able to join the Tylenol autism ADHD lawsuit. Researchers have found a link between the use of these drugs and an increased risk of autism.

Does the Child Suffer From Other Conditions?

Children who suffer from other health conditions also are at an increased risk of developing autism and may not be successful in a Tylenol autism ADHD lawsuit. These conditions include

  • Down’s syndrome
  • Fragile X syndrome
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Tuberous sclerosis

Are There Other Children with AUTISM Spectrum disorder?

Suppose the mother has other children who have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, and she did not use Tylenol during that pregnancy. In that case, the likelihood of successful Tylenol autism litigation is diminished. The defendants’ counsel could argue that genetics or environmental factors rather than Tylenol use contributed to the ASD.

How To Join the Tylenol Autism ADHD Lawsuit

Mothers whose children had fetal exposure to acetaminophen and have been diagnosed with autism or ADHD can join the Tylenol class action lawsuit. The likelihood of success is substantial if the mother or child lacks other risk factors for the disease.

You’ll need an attorney specializing in these cases to file a successful Tylenol lawsuit. 1-800-ASK-GARY helps Florida, Minnesota, and New Mexico mothers find qualified attorneys to file a new Tylenol autism lawsuit. These attorneys will review the evidence and, if the case is strong, will represent you on a contingency basis. You’ll owe nothing unless you win your Tylenol lawsuit. Call 1-800Ask-GARY to find Tylenol autism lawyers today.