Paracetamol (or acetaminophen), and medications that contain it, is the drug most often used during pregnancy. According to estimated figures, 65 percent of pregnant women in the United States use it, and more than 50 percent in the rest of the world.
But experts warn of the risks of its use during pregnancy and indicate that it should only be used during pregnancy for medical indications and in the lowest doses for the shortest possible period , as published in a consensus document signed by 91 doctors around the world and published in the scientific journal Nature Reviews Endocrinology .
An excessive use of paracetamol can cause harm to the fetus
Researcher David Kristensen, from the University of Copenhagen, and a group of scientists from the United States conducted a review of studies on the use of paracetamol during pregnancy published between January 1, 1995 and October 25, 2020.
Experts warn of the growing scientific evidence that associates the consumption of paracetamol during pregnancy with neurodevelopmental, reproductive and urogenital disorders.
The drug crosses the placenta reaching the fetus and crosses the blood-brain barrier, thus reaching the brain. The document recalls that paracetamol is an endocrine disruptor that inhibits the production of male hormones and stimulates that of female hormones.
Studies have found an elevated risk of undescended testicles (cryptorchidism) and a reduced distance between the anus and the base of the penis, a measure known as anogenital distance (AGD).
An excessive use of paracetamol is also associated with related health problems that include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), language delay, low IQ, male infertility and precocious puberty in girls.
Paracetamol and pregnancy
Furthermore, the use of paracetamol in pregnancy is important for the treatment of high fever and severe pain which, if left untreated, could potentially affect the developing fetus or the mother. But it is not harmless, so it should always be prescribed by the doctor.
“Many of these women don’t consider it a real drug with potential side effects,” Kristensen said.
The expert considered that “it is important to take into account that this drug is recommended during pregnancy by regulatory agencies, in contrast to other drugs such as Ibuprofen and aspirin and is not contraindicated for late pregnancy.”
They propose that pregnant women receive counseling in the early stages of pregnancy and do not take paracetamol unless expressly indicated by a physician; They urge you to consult a professional in case it is to be used for a long time and urge you to minimize the risk by taking the lowest possible dose for the shortest possible period .
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In Babies and more | Do not put your baby at risk: drugs prohibited during pregnancy