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Infertility Link to Paracetamol
Women taking common painkillers while pregnant could greatly increase the risk of their sons suffering infertility problems, according to research published today.
Current guidelines issued by the Department of Health say women are able to take mild analgesics such as paracetamol and ibuprofen without any danger to their unborn children.
But according to the new work, ibuprofen and aspirin quadruple the risk of a baby being born with a condition affecting semen production, if taken in the fourth, fifth and sixth months of pregnancy.
A doubling of the risk was found for paracetamol. But taking more than one painkiller at the same time increased the risk 16-fold.
Taking the drugs could lead to women giving birth to sons with undescended testicles (cryptorchidism) — a condition known to be a risk factor for poor semen quality. It is also said to increase the risk of testicular germ cell cancer.
Fertility expert Dr Allan Pacey at the University of Sheffield this afternoon said the findings were “alarming” and called for more research “as a matter of priority."
The study in the journal Human Reproduction supported findings in another study which showed painkillers disrupted androgen (steroid hormone) production, leading to insufficient supplies of testosterone during the crucial early period of gestation when the male organs were forming. Dr Henrik Leffers, senior scientist at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, said his research “suggests that particular attention should be paid to the use of mild analgesics during pregnancy, as this could be a major reason for the problems."