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Pain relievers could affect fertility in future generations
There are many medications that mothers should not use during pregnancy. Because the impact on unborn offspring can be significant. Now researchers claim that mothers should not use paracetamol during pregnancy either.
Some medications are not recommended for expectant mothers. This apparently also applies to the pain reliever paracetamol. A recent study found that acetaminophen could harm daughters' future fertility. The scientists published the results of their investigation in the scientific journal "Scientific Reports".
Pain relievers lead to small ovaries in rats and fewer boys
Tests on experimental rats found that paracetamol, or the aspirin-like drug indomethacin, should not be prescribed in mothers during pregnancy. Because the female offspring of the mothers develop fewer egg cells under the influence of the drugs than those who were not exposed to such drugs during pregnancy, the doctors explain. Affected female offspring also had smaller ovaries and gave birth to smaller litters from babies. We now need to understand how these drugs affect reproductive development in the uterus, emphasizes Professor Richard Sharpe of the University of Edinburgh. It is then also possible to understand the full effect of such drugs. Male rats were also affected. They showed fewer cells that are involved in the production of sperm later in life. However, the cells regain their fertility over time, the scientists say.
Paracetamol was previously recommended for pain during pregnancy
Pain relievers act on hormones called prostaglandins, which are known to regulate ovulation and the menstrual cycle, and women are advised to take the lowest dose possible when the medication is not essential. Paracetamol is often considered the only safe way to treat pregnancy pain, and the drug is routinely used in all phases of pregnancy to relieve pain. So far, there has been no evidence that such treatment could have harmful effects on the unborn child, the researchers explain. However, the UK health authorities, for example, recommend that women should not use medication during pregnancy, especially in the first three months. If it is still necessary to take a pain reliever, paracetamol has been advised earlier, the scientists report.
Paracetamol has many negative effects on unborn children
It is important to remember that the study was done on rats, not humans. However, there are many similarities between the two reproductive systems, explains Professor Sharpe. The rats were given the medication for several days and the effects developed after one to four days. The drug appeared to affect the mother's immediate offspring, but it also affected subsequent generations, the researchers say. Granddaughters of the trial rates also showed smaller ovaries and a changed reproductive function. Some analgesics can influence the development of our so-called "germ cells", the scientists suspected. The study included the use of pain relievers over a relatively long period of time. We now have to investigate whether a shorter dose has a similar effect, according to Professor Richard Sharpe and colleagues. Afterwards, this information should be used for human use. The University of Edinburgh scientists also found that pain relievers inhibit testosterone production in baby mice when administered for at least a week. As early as 2010, Danish researchers suspected that such drugs increase the risk of undescended testicles in male babies. In 2014, American researchers concluded that paracetamol can increase the risk of developing hyperactivity in children during pregnancy. (as)