Jun 10, 2022 - News

Woman claims Walmart's acetaminophen sales led to her kids' disorders

Photo of the front of a shopping cart with a Walmart sign.
The front of a Walmart shopping cart. Photo: Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Walmart was sued in federal court in Seattle this week for selling acetaminophen to a Snohomish woman, who claims her regular use of the medication during separate pregnancies in 2009 and 2011 caused lifelong neurological disorders in her children.

The latest: Tiffany Rutledge, the plaintiff, claims her children — identified only by their initials, C.R. and L.R. — both suffer from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as a result.

  • L.R. is also likely autistic because of prenatal exposure to the drug, the lawsuit says.

What they're saying: Rutledge's suit claims that for years while Walmart has manufactured and sold acetaminophen in its stores, "the weight of scientific evidence" has found exposure in the womb to the drug, also known as paracetamol and APAP, "significantly increases the risk of neurodevelopmental disorders" in children.

  • Walmart put no warning labels on paracetamol, the suit says.
  • The retail giant also "concealed" the prenatal risks "in part by not reporting the link to the FDA, which relies on drug manufacturers to bring new information about a drug to the agency’s attention," per the lawsuit.

The other side: "Walmart does not manufacture these products," company spokesperson Marci Burks said in an email Thursday. "We expect suppliers to provide safe and quality products that comply with all applicable laws, including labeling requirements."

  • "We will respond in Court as appropriate after we are served with the Complaint."

Details: Rutledge claims she regularly used acetaminophen products, including "almost every day towards the end of her second trimester and during her third trimester" pregnancy with L.R. "to address problems with her hips that arose … and to treat food poisoning."

  • The lawsuit states since that 2013, at least six European studies "examining over 70,000 mother-child pairs" have shown links between prenatal use of acetaminophen and ADHD and autism.

Separately, a 2018 analysis of several studies published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found a 20% higher risk of autism and a 30% higher risk of ADHD for kids with prolonged prenatal exposure to the drug.

  • But that review also found that taking small amounts of acetaminophen didn’t raise risks.
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