Painkiller use is bad for sons
Taking mild painkillers during pregnancy may give your son a reproductive disorder.
By Kate Kelland
Article originally in Reuters
Research found that women who took a combination of more than one mild analgesic during pregnancy had an increased risk of giving birth to sons with undescended testicles.
This condition, called cryptorchidism, is known to be a risk factor for poor semen quality and a greater risk of testicular cancer in later life.
"Women may want to try to reduce their analgesic use during pregnancy," said Henrik Leffers, who led the research. "However, as biologists this is not something we can advise women about. So we recommend that pregnant women seek advice from their physician."
According to the Leffers team, more than half of pregnant women in Western countries report taking mild analgesics.
Doctors generally say women should avoid taking medicines while pregnant, but that paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin are considered safe in some conditions and at certain times.
The researchers, however has said that several studies have shown a global decline in sperm counts, although other studies have contradicted this finding and researchers do not agree on whether there is a measurable change globally.
This study looked at two groups of women, 834 in Denmark and 1,463 in Finland, who were questioned about their use of medication during pregnancy.
Their male babies were examined at birth for any signs of cryptorchidism, ranging from a mild form of the condition in which the testis is located high in the scrotum to the more severe form, in which the testis is high up in the abdomen.
The results of the human study showed that women who used more than one painkiller simultaneously had a seven-fold increased risk of giving birth to sons with some form of cryptorchidism compared with women who took nothing.
The second trimester appeared to be a particularly sensitive time, with simultaneous use of more than one painkiller during this period linked to a 16-fold increase in risk.
"Although we should be cautious ... the use of mild analgesics constitutes by far the largest exposure to endocrine disruptors among pregnant women, and use of these compounds is at present the best suggestion for an exposure that can affect a large proportion of the human population," said Leffers.
What are your thoughts on taking painkillers during pregnancy?