Paracetamol may be harmful to pregnant women

Doctors advise pregnant women not to consume paracetamol regularly since it may impair the development of their infants in the womb.

There has been an increase in the side effects of the medicine being used and, with the new research result that has appeared, paracetamols might not be the best option for pregnant women. According to Danish researchers reviewing the report, there has been an increasing fear that paracetamol may hamper fetal development. As such, the mothers-to-be are requested to take the medicine for the shortest time possible and the lowest effective dose.

Although this may be a leading concern, some scientists have rendered the news as rubbish, saying the papers that were reviewed in this regard are ‘not robust enough to draw any conclusions.’ Further, they also claimed that raising a pregnant mother’s anxiety about the unborn child often has adverse consequences.

The warning

The health chiefs acknowledge that only certain people need to take extra care. Whereas a warning was issued in the journal Nature Reviews Endocrinology against the use of the medicine amongst pregnant women. According to the reports, a growing body of evidence links paracetamol to neurodevelopmental, reproductive, and urogenital issues. The report argues that paracetamol usage is linked to cognitive, learning, or behavioural problems in youngsters.

Additionally, studies have also found that the painkiller could be a possible cause for a high rate of early puberty, decreased fertility, and sperm count. Thus, doctors have advised monitoring the use of paracetamol dosage in pregnant women and said,

forego paracetamol unless its use is medically indicated; consult with a physician or pharmacist if they are uncertain whether use is indicated and before using on a long-term basis, and minimize exposure by using the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time.

Is it really harmful?

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) and US Food and Drug (FDA) had been contacted to review the data so that no false information or advice reaches out to people. As such, their review claims that the studies have failed to prove any risks of birth defects. Dr. Sarah Stock, a University of Edinburgh fetal medicine expert, said:

This paper doesn't change recommendations on paracetamol use in pregnancy… (the team had) done a good job of bringing together existing evidence.

She further argues that paracetamol is an effective painkiller and thus, continues to be an important medicine that should not be taken without a prescription irrespective of the pregnancy status. Advocating the same notion, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine professor Stephen Evans said,

Avoidance of unnecessary drugs is to be encouraged at all times, and most pregnant women are aware of this.

Hence, there is a need to re-examine the issue, but certainly not a message to current or prospective pregnant mothers.

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