USE of mild painkillers such as paracetamol, aspirin and
ibuprofen during pregnancy may partly account for a sharp increase in
male reproductive disorders in recent decades, according to a study.
Research in developed nations has shown that sperm counts have fallen by about 50 percent in the past half century.
The research found that women who took a combination of more than one mild analgesic during pregnancy had an increased risk of giving birth to sons with undescended testicles.
This condition is known to be a risk factor for poor semen quality and a greater risk of testicular cancer. The study found that the risk was especially increased during the second trimester, the fourth to sixth months of pregnancy.
The researchers from Finland, Denmark and France said more studies were urgently needed and advice to pregnant women on use of painkillers should be reconsidered.
Doctors generally say women should avoid taking medicines while pregnant, but that paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin are considered safe in some conditions and at certain times.
This study looked at two groups of women, 834 in Denmark and 1,463 in Finland. The results showed that women who used more than one painkiller simultaneously had a seven-fold increased risk of giving birth to sons with testicular problems, compared with women who took nothing.
The second trimester appeared to be a particularly sensitive time, with simultaneous use of more than one painkiller during this period linked to a 16-fold increase in risk.
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