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Tylenol, Inflammation and Autism

Infant tylenolFrom our friends at SafeMinds. Read the entire article at the SafeMinds site.

"Acetaminophen as a cause of the autism pandemic? It makes absolutely no sense … at first."

Dr. William Parker

My research looks at what causes harmful inflammation in people in Western societies. The triggers of inflammation are recent developments in human history, appearing after the agricultural revolution only 10,000 years ago. Most did not appear until just a few decades ago, as we entered the post-industrial age [1]. My favorite example is the loss of biodiversity from the human body. Humans have always been bathed inside and out with bacteria, viruses, fungi, worms, and other organisms, but in recent decades our bodies' ecosystems have become much less diverse, to our detriment.

Inflammation can be described simply as an aggressive immune response. It's not a bad thing, and in fact is necessary under certain circumstances. However, inflammation in Western society has gotten out of control, resulting in pandemics of allergies, autoimmune conditions, and increased rates of cancer.

I'll list the main factors known to cause inflammation in humans living in Western society.

These are the "big five":
1.Loss of biodiversity (biome depletion)
2.Inflammatory diets
3.Sedentary lifestyles
4.Chronic psychological stress
5.Vitamin D deficiency

Scientists hypothesize that if we could eliminate these five factors, we would virtually eliminate allergies and autoimmune disorders  [2, 3]. We also think that the rate of cancer would drop profoundly [4, 5].

Most importantly for this discussion, the rate of neuropsychiatric disorders is expected to plummet if we could control these five factors [6, 7]. The high rates of autism should drop dramatically [6, 7].

Read more here.



To the comment from Betty Bona: Most of the people who died in the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 (including all of my great grand parents) did not die from flu. The children were prescribed rest and plenty of fluids while the adult population were told to take aspirin. None of the children died. Google aspirin, Spanish flu to find the technical details.

Betty Bona

The 1918 Spanish Flu virus was different than the typical annual flu virus both in the number of people who did not survive and in the particular portion of the population who did not survive. The typical flu virus tends to claim the lives of the very young and the elderly. The 1918 Spanish Flu virus tended to take the lives of relatively healthy young adults. The explanation I have heard is that these healthy individuals with working immune systems mounted a serious defense to the virus and a cytokine storm ensued. The cytokine storm resulted in such serious inflammation that they literally drowned in the excess fluids from the inflammation. Less healthy people with poorer functioning immune systems did not have such a serious response to the virus and were more likely to survive. In a situation like this, I think Tylenol is just an add-on or amplifier (as I have suggested before). It is not a trigger, but just makes it less likely that the cycle of inflammation will be halted. I don't know why the Spanish Flu Virus was different than other flu viruses, but I think we would learn a lot by studying these differences.

I think the HPV Vaccine is similar. The group most affected by the HPV vaccine seems to be the very athletic, healthy adolescent girls. Is that because their immune system is healthy and capable of a cytokine storm when less healthy individuals can't mount that type of immune defense? Maybe the HPV vaccine is just like the Spanish Flu. Then I start to wonder about the whole idea that our kids with autism have weak detox genes or methylation genes or whatever genes they are currently looking at. Maybe they had heightened immune systems that reacted to vaccines with a cytokine storm that resulted in inflammation. Maybe Tylenol would simply be an add on to reduce the chances of interrupting the inflammation and maybe the particular genes were also just factors that reduce the chances of an interruption of the inflammatory process. Rather than trigger", a better terminology might be to think of a runaway train where the usual safety mechanisms to stop the forward motion have been pulled. Even if the safety mechanisms are in place, it's not clear the forward motion could be stopped. That's the way I think of Tylenol.


The problem with the reference to Cuba as having a similar vaccine schedule but a much lower rate of autism, due supposedly to the lack of OTC aceteminophen in Cuba, is that no one actually seems to really know what the rate of autism is in Cuba. They do not keep track there, or if they do, they do not publish their rates. What we do know is that Autism Speaks recently opened up shop in Cuba. If the Cuban rate was still the pre-vaccine era rate of 1 in 10,000, there would be no real need for new autism organizations, would there?

I am very intrigued by the aceteminophen theory and certainly think it is worth pursuing. I just don't think that we can reliably use data from Latin American countries to figure this thing out.

Once again, what is needed is a study IN THE U.S., with the U.S. VACCINE SCHEDULE, and U.S.-ADMINISTERED VACCINES, of vax vs. unvaxed children. Once that basic data is collected, if there is indeed a significant difference in autism rates between the two groups, then of course researchers will have to drill down further to see what else is different between these two groups besides their vaccine uptake. Aceteminophen use will be one thing to look at. Another will be antibiotics. Beyond that, they will need to see if there are any differences in terms of pesticide and heavy metal exposure (outside of vaccines).

This is a very doable study. I don't know what everybody is waiting for.

Betty Bona

I totally agree about the inadvisability of using Tylenol in conjunction with vaccines - or, for that matter, ever using Tylenol. I worked in a toxicology lab in the 70s, and my most dreaded call was to come in, usually in the middle of the night, to check a Tylenol overdose level. We never worried excessively about aspirin overdoses, but Tylenol really got us moving. Still, years later, I allowed my pediatrician to convince me to use Tylenol, though I was hesitant and used it less frequently than they recommended.

A few years ago, I heard Dr. William Shaw talk about his research on Tylenol and autism. He found that the rate of autism is much lower in Cuba than in the US and attributed the lower rate to the lack of over-the-counter Tylenol availability. Purportedly, they have a vaccine schedule close to ours, but no one uses Tylenol. Dr. Parker gives a citation to Shaw's work above.

I know Tylenol is bad, but I would not characterize it as quite the main culprit that Dr. Parker and Dr. Shaw do. Here's why:

First, I think Dr. Parker should add viruses to his list of five causes of inflammation. I really think the vaccine strain measles virus given in the US, along with the rubella and mumps virus, is much more important in the genesis of inflammation in our spectrum kids than he or Dr. Schultz seem to think. I think the virus starts the inflammation, and Tylenol should be characterized as an "amplifier" rather than a "trigger".

Second, I'm not convinced that the vaccines given in Cuba are equal to the vaccines given in the US. I think the MMR is different. Maybe close, but still different. After learning about GcMAF and Nagalase and hearing that 80% of spectrum kids that Bradstreet tested had high nagalase levels, I know that this is significant in autism. Nagalase comes from the viruses and prevents the formation of GcMAF which would help the immune system get control of inflammation. This is why is say Tylenol is an amplifier, but not necessarily a trigger. Maybe, just maybe, the vaccines against measles, mumps and rubella given in Cuba do not result in such a high nagalase level. Maybe we do actually add nagalase to our vaccines in the US as some suspect.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't worry about Tylenol. I hate that I allowed my kids to have it, reducing their glutathione and preventing them from detoxing. There's no denying all of the evidence of harm that Ann Bauer listed. But I think we would still have an epidemic of autism without Tylenol. Maybe a little smaller epidemic.


Modern medicine- What hast thou wrought?


I would slightly reword that question, to read ..

Vaccines - What hast thou wrought?

And my answer to that question, is Modern Medicine

Cherry Misra

to Ann Bauer, Thankyou very much for the links. I am really furious that acetaminophen was ever allowed on the market. I wonder if any one can do a little research- and find if the pharma companies trashed aspirin for being dangerous, in order to bring in their new, more expensive product ? (and even more dangerous) . Obviously acetaminopen would be a very bad thing to give to childdren when they are being given mercury in vaccines, because it decreases the glutathione levels . It is the glutathiones that remove mercury from the body.
These days we are having a minor epidemic of dengue in India, and the problem with dengue is that people are often sick and in pain for 2-3 weeks. With doctors and relatives believing that they must give acetaminophen for the fever and pain- this is going to bring any patient perilously close to death. It also happens that the glutathione proteins are what the body needs to disable viruses- so by giving it one is taking away the body's ability to fight infection. Modern medicine- What hast thou wrought?


I have told many people over the past couple years to avoid acetaminophen. Glad I did. Coal tar - seriously?

In Schultz's chart, I am wondering what accounts for the drop in autism numbers from 1968-69 and again from 1970-72? Anyone know?

Also, could there be a connection between tylenol/acet. use and whooping cough outbreaks on college campuses? When kids graduate and move away, late nights and drinking and poor diets could easily result in a huge increase in tylenol usage. There are probably tylenol packets at every campus store and gas station in every college town. Are the college kids who end up diagnosed w/whooping cough the ones who took tylenol to handle a mild illness and inadvertently tylenol morphs it into something more serious (a worsening of inflammation of the airways)?


It's been several years since people and researchers started connecting the dots between acetaminophen and all kinds of harm. The official response has been to decrease dosage recommendations and reformulate combination drugs to avoid potential overdosing. As far as I know, the FDA has not warned parents about acetaminophen. Now we see Duke University saying no acetaminophen for kids. How many years have to go by until the FDA takes appropriate action?

Jeannette Bishop

My first daughter's doctors/nurses said to give tylenol, even right before coming in for her vaccinations. I was pretty used to giving it for every fever by the time my second daughter was born.

I think I actually used it less for my second daughter who is on the spectrum, though, not saying that to argue against a connection, but the reason was I really didn't feel good about using it for her. I'm left to hope that what I did use didn't contribute to the injuries she sustained seemingly mainly from getting every vaccine on time, in sickness or health, including some that were likely poor shaken, etc., etc, ... but there's not much reason to hope ...

I'm also wondering if the "big five" of inflammation is more like or pretty close to being a list of symptoms of a body burden of pollutants like mercury, aluminum, etc?


Well, the only light bulb going off here, on this dreary Saturday morning in Virginia, is that most conventional doctors only know of one use for the altered amino acid, NAC. For years it has been given in hospital ERs for Tylenol overdose.

Well, more recently guess what NAC has also been found to be effective for? Treatment of numerous negative behaviors associated with autism. Coincidence? Probably. On the other hand....coal tar??

Ann Bauer

All of you at "Age of Autism" have been such passionate advocates for the families that have been affected by autism or may be in the future. I hope you will continue this work by helping increase awareness of and supporting research into this avoidable, potential trigger-acetaminophen.

For those of you interested in learning more,
there is some recent research on acetaminophen not mentioned in this article:

1) The findings of an association between prenatal acetaminophen and ADHD symptoms were replicated in a New Zealand prospective cohort study

2) The potential association of acetaminophen used at the time of circumcision has been strengthened by findings from a large Danish study.

In addition, a new Cochrane review of acetaminophen for newborns concluded “Paracetamol (acetaminophen) should not be used for painful procedures given its lack of efficacy and its potential adverse effects”.

3)Through a novel methodology, researchers have shown that acetaminophen may be toxic at lower doses than previously believed.

4)Additional laboratory studies supporting biologic plausibility of an association to autism:

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