Paracetamol or acetaminophen is an over-the-counter medication for pain relief and it is commonly taken by pregnant women worldwide but a new medical review published in Endocrinology press has it that taking paracetamol during pregnancy may impair the future fertility of female offspring.
In this review, three different rodent studies were cited and they had the same result; they reported altered development in the reproductive systems of female offspring from mothers given paracetamol during pregnancy, which may impair their fertility in adulthood.
This is the first study investigating the effect of paracetamol on female offspring, many recent studies have linked paracetamol use during pregnancy with disruptions in the development of the male reproductive system.
Dr David Kristensen and colleagues from Copenhagen University Hospital, review the findings from three individual rodent studies that evaluated the effects of paracetamol taken during pregnancy on the development of the reproductive system in female offspring and noted that rodents given paracetamol during pregnancy, at doses equivalent to those that a pregnant woman may take for pain relief, produced female offspring with fewer eggs. This means that in adulthood, they have fewer eggs available for fertilisation, which may reduce their chances of successful reproduction, particularly as they get older.
Dr Kristensen said, “Although this may not be a severe impairment to fertility, it is still of real concern since data from three different labs all independently found that paracetamol may disrupt female reproductive development in this way, which indicates further investigation is needed to establish how this affects human fertility.”
“By combining epidemiological data from human studies with more experimental research on models, such as rodents, it may be possible to firmly establish this link and determine how it happens, so that pregnant women in pain can be successfully treated, without risk to their unborn children.”
He also advised pregnant women in pain to consult with their general practitioner, midwife or pharmacist for professional advice.