Tylenol. We all probably have it in our medicine cabinets.  Tylenol is the most commonly used over-the-counter analgesic-antipyretic in the United States. But is Tylenol safe for babies?

What is the deal with all the chatter over this medication? It wasn’t until recently that I realized people are developing a fear of Tylenol. Some things I have come across are:

  • Tylenol causes autism
  • It is a neurotoxic endocrine disruptor
  • Tylenol is deadly
  • It causes liver failure

Seeing the prominence of these concerns I decided to do more research to see if any of these claims could be substantiated.

Is Tylenol safe for babies?

Is Tylenol safe for your baby

Is there really any scientific evidence directly correlating Tylenol use with autism or endocrine dysfunctions?

I wanted to understand why some people are so afraid of this medication that I have personally used so readily for myself, my patients, and my child. I will give away my findings right now- these allegations are false and misleading. Let me explain.

My Research

A majority of my research takes places through UpToDate. This is a website created by medical professionals as a clinical decision support resource. It is a world-renowned, evidence-based, and used by over 1.3 million clinicians in 187 countries and nearly 90% of major academic medical centers in the United States.

Needless to say, this is a reputable source with a lot of useful information. To have full access to this website you need to have a subscription which is typically purchased through an employer (for the medical professionals). You can also subscribe and purchase it yourself, but I would doubt that most people would opt to do this because they don’t want to spend the money.

So, what is the alternative for the general public? Hello Google!

I am no different than you. I Google things 100 times a day (okay, I exaggerated there). What’s the weather? How long do I bake the lasagna for again? Everything and anything you want to know is available at your fingertips.

I love Google just as much as the next person. But what you must use caution with is believing everything you read. Not every article you come across is reliable. Have you ever heard the saying: “believe half of what you see and none of what you hear“?

People can put whatever they want on the internet and present it as fact. For example, I read something from a popular mom blog that cited an article from 1998… It’s 2018 now.

Do you know how much can change in 20 years? A LOT. EVERYTHING.

Citing research is great! Citing research that is 20 years old, not always helpful or reliable.

Some other things you should consider when reading articles are:

  1.  Is the cited reference a peer reviewed article. In other words, has the article been assessed for validity and quality by other experts in the same field. Like I said, anyone can write an article online these days, so you must be able to distinguish when it is science-based or just junk.
  2. Sample size in the study. Look at the amount of people that were part of the research study. If the article is trying to show statistical significance with their study, it is possible but not likely when they have a very small group of participants.

Getting back to my main point of this article- Is Tylenol safe for babies?

If you type into Google: Is Tylenol Safe for Babies? You will yield over 800k results. Do you know how many of those results are probably reliable? Me either. But I can bet that it is a small fraction of them. 

It is true Tylenol can cause liver failure and even death. This is a fact I cannot refute, but this is when it is taken against guidelines. If you take too much of it, you run the risk of toxicity and death.

There are so many other medications in which the same thing can be said. For example, if you take too much insulin- you can die. If you take too much blood pressure medication- you can die. If you take too many antidepressants- you can die. Do you see my point here?

There is very little risk associated with most medications when taken as directed.

Scientists study these medications and create guidelines for a reason. It is when people do not follow these instructions that it will become problematic. Following the guidelines for pediatrics of 10-15mg/kg every 4-6 hours (maximum daily dose of 75mg/kg/day) Tylenol will not poison their livers.

A second concern is for Tylenol being a neurotoxin.

What I found was the inactive ingredient benzyl alcohol, or other derivatives (sodium benzoate, benzoic acid) can be potentially fatal in neonates when given in large doses. It can cause central nervous system dysfunction (seizures, bleeding on the brain) and cardiovascular collapse. That is some scary information to swallow. But again, it is in large doses and in neonates (an infant less than 28 days old).

I would venture to say most of you reading this are not considering giving your newborn Tylenol anyway. This information is then used incorrectly to scare people into thinking Tylenol will cause death of your child.

People use small parts of information and apply it inappropriately.

Lastly, I want to address Tylenol causing autism.

It is interesting that people are jumping on this bandwagon. Last time I looked, I thought the big thing was vaccines causing autism.

That is also still an argument today, but I think since these people have not been able to really prove their case they needed to find another avenue to venture down.

So, let’s take the most commonly utilized over the counter analgesic/antipyretic and tell people this is the cause for autism. This is why we are seeing such a spike in numbers of kids diagnosed. Not only should you be afraid to kill your kids with Tylenol, but if they are lucky enough to have survived taking that toxic chemical- they stand a high chance of becoming autistic.

Scientists and doctors with years of education and experience cannot pinpoint a cause for autism, but surprisingly many laymen know what causes it. Does this sound as ridiculous to you, as it does to me?

“Research” I Found

I found an article online that discussed Tylenol causing Autism, but what I could only see was the abstract because I did not have a subscription to that website. The abstract gave me enough insight however to know that buying the article would not be worth my money.

The abstract stated the “study” they conducted was a parental survey done over the internet. The group only contained about 136 children altogether.

None of that struck me as having potential to be reliable and there was no indication that this article was peer reviewed. So if something like this is the best evidence someone can give to argue that Tylenol causes autism I would urge you to choose another battle.

So is Tylenol safe for babies?

I hope my purpose of writing about Tylenol is clear.

There is a lot of information out there on the internet, and there are a lot of people who can get their hands on this information and manipulate it to meet their needs.

I am not here to change the minds of those with opposing views, and I am not here to even argue those people. I am hoping to educate others to really pay attention to the information they are receiving.

Do not just take what you read for face value (my article included). This world is a big place, full of a lot of scary and bad things.

Is Tylenol safe for babies? I have found no substantial evidence to indicate that Tylenol, when taken as directed, is part of that scary world. 

Get more tips on infant and toddler care