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‘Paracetamol in pregnancy could harm baby boy


motherPREGNANT women have been warned that taking paracetamol could harm their unborn babies, as the popular painkiller is believed to have life-long effects on baby boys, raising their risk of everything – from infertility to cancer.

Edinburgh University researchers, in a report published in Science Translational Medicine, said that Britons have become “blasé” about paracetamol’s potential dangers – and urged pregnant women to think twice before taking the drug.

They said that if the tablets are taken, they should be used in the lowest possible dose, for the shortest possible time. The Royal College of Midwives said mothers-to-be should seek medical advice before taking paracetamol at all.

Paracetamol is the most widely-used painkiller in the world. And as the only painkiller deemed safe in pregnancy, it is taken by most mothers-to-be. However several studies have suggested it interferes with the development of the male reproductive system while still in the womb.

This is important because it is thought that if this programming goes wrong, it has lifelong effects, putting the child at higher risk of a range of problems from genital birth defects to infertility and testicular cancer.

Testosterone, which is made in the testicles, is thought to be key to the whole process, so the researchers carried out an experiment designed to show if exposure to paracetamol in the womb cuts levels of the hormone.

Women who take paracetamol during pregnancy may increase the risk of their child developing(Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) ADHD, new research has found.

While it is the most common drug taken to relieve pain, a New Zealand researcher said the new findings were ‘alarming’. The Auckland University backs a Danish study from earlier this year, which linked the popular painkiller to behavioural disorders.

The study analysed data from a study of 871 European infants. The researchers analysed the drug use of paracetamol, aspirin, antacids, and antibiotics during pregnancy. They then measured behavioural difficulties and ADHD symptoms in children at age seven and age 11.

Almost half of the study mothers took paracetamol during pregnancy and their children were more at risk of behavioural difficulties and ADHD. The other drugs caused no significant differences in behaviour, the study found.

Experiments on babies in the womb would be impossible, so the researchers studied mice that had pieces of human foetal testicular tissue grafted onto them. The animals were given paracetamol in doses equivalent to those taken by people and the amount of testosterone they made was measured.

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