Painkillers during pregnancy may affect a child's future fertility

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Apr 25, 2018
Quick Bites

  • Be careful if you have been taking painkillers during pregnancy
  • A new research has suggested taking painkillers may have an effect on the reproductive capacity of the fetus
  • These medicines can affect the fertility of an unborn child

Be careful if you have been taking painkillers during pregnancy. A new research has suggested taking painkillers may have an effect on the reproductive capacity of the fetus. These medicines can affect the fertility of an unborn child. 

According to the research, it can also affect the DNA and fertility of the future generations. It also states that certain medicines such as paracetamol and ibuprofen should be used carefully during pregnancy. 

“We would encourage women to think carefully before taking painkiller sin pregnancy and to follow existing guidelines – taking the lowest possible dose for the shortest time possible,” said study senior author Dr Rod Mitchell, from MRC Center for Reproductive Health at the University of Edinburg, UK.  

About 50 percent of the pregnant women take painkillers to get rid of a headache during pregnancy. The use of painkillers can affect the quality of sperms formed in the fetus, not only in the reproductive organs but also later in life. In such a case, a child can develop testicular cancer.

For the study, the team did lab tests on human tissue and animal studies to find the adverse effects using several different experimental approaches. 

Human tissues exposed to the aforementioned drugs for a week had reduced numbers of germ cells that give rise to sperms and eggs. Ovaries exposed to paracetamol for a week had more than forty percent fewer eggs-producing cells.

“This is important because girls produce all of their eggs in the womb, so if they are born with a reduced number it could lead to an early menopause,” added Dr Mitchell. 

The researchers found that the exposure to either of the drugs during pregnancy triggers mechanism in the cell that makes changes in the structure of DNA, known as epigenetic marks.

Painkillers’ effects on germ cells are probably caused by prostaglandins – molecules that have an important function in the ovaries and testes.

The findings were published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

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