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Pregnancy pain-killers may damage paternal prospects

Tuesday November 9th, 2010

The use of common pain-killers during pregnancy may be contributing to declining male fertility in some European countries, according to disturbing findings revealed yesterday.

Researchers have found a strong link between the taking of drugs such as aspirin or paracetamol and male problems with the reproductive system.

Researchers say taking drugs during the second trimester - the third to sixth month - of pregnancy poses a particular risk.

And mixing different kinds of pill also increases risk.

Researchers linked painkillers in pregnancy to the birth of sons with undescended testicles - creating a risk of infertility later in life.

During the second trimester, taking a mixture of drugs, increased the risk by 16 times, according to a report in the journal Human Reproduction.

Researchers studied some 834 women in Denmark and 1,463 in Finland - but only used written surveys in Finland and believe this led to women failing to report the use of pain-killers. They also note the problem with male babies is four times as common in Denmark as Finland.

Researcher Dr Henrik Leffers, of the Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark, said there was scientific basis for the concern that paracetamol - acetaminophen in the USA - could disrupt hormones in a pregnant woman.

He said: "If exposure to endocrine disruptors is the mechanism behind the increasing reproductive problems among young men in the Western World, this 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.

"Although we should be cautious about any over-extrapolation or over-statement, 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."

Intrauterine exposure to mild analgesics is a risk factor for development of male reproductive disorders in human and rat. David M. Kristensen et al. Human Reproduction journal. November 8 2010 doi:10.1093/humrep/deq323

Tags: Childbirth and Pregnancy | Europe | Menís Health | Pharmaceuticals | Womenís Health & Gynaecology

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