Friday 17 January 2020

Painkiller in pregnancy 'risks grandchildren's fertility': study

Stock image: PA
Stock image: PA

Laura Donnelly

Taking common painkillers including paracetamol during pregnancy could make grandchildren infertile, new research suggests.

Previous studies have found that ibuprofen could harm the fertility of girls.

Women are advised to avoid the medication during pregnancy and told that if pain relief is needed, they should take paracetamol, but for as little time as possible.

However, the new study found both drugs could harm future fertility of subsequent offspring - with an impact on boys and girls. Estimates suggest around one-in-three will take such drugs during pregnancy.

The study found the medication made marks on the DNA with permanent consequences. Ovaries exposed to paracetamol for one week had more than 40pc fewer egg-producing cells. After ibuprofen exposure, the number of cells was almost halved.

Testicular tissue exposed to painkillers in a culture dish had around a quarter fewer sperm-producing cells after exposure to paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh looked at the effects of both on samples of human foetal testes and ovaries. They found similar effects using several experimental approaches, including lab tests on human samples and animal studies.

The scientists found exposure to paracetamol or ibuprofen triggers mechanisms in the cell that make changes in the structure of DNA, called epigenetic marks. These can be inherited, helping to explain how the effects of painkillers on fertility may be passed on to future generations.

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

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