New information about the use of mild pain relievers during pregnancy indicates that they may increase the risk of reproductive problems in male babies.
For years, women have been advised that the use of mild pain relievers, such as acetominophen (Tylenol) was safe during pregnancy. However, new research published in the November 8th issue of Human Reproduction shows that over-the-counter pain relievers may increase the risk of reproductive problems in male babies.
Researchers Find Tylenol, Ibuprofen and ASPIRIN® Unsafe
Researchers from Copenhagen led by Dr. Henrik Leffers, have found that the use of pain relievers during pregnancy may no longer be as safe as previously thought. The study’s finding have proven that even small amounts of these pain relievers taken at critical times during pregnancy increase a male infant’s risk of having undescended testicles at birth, also known as cryptorchidism.
Typically just one testicle is affected in most cases of crytorchidism and corrects itself within the first several months of life. Male infants can have mild forms of crytorchidism if the testicle is found high in the scrotum. However, in some cases, cryptorchidism is more severe where one or both testicles are much higher in the abdomen. Cryptorchidism can result in long-term reproductive health problems for the adult male, including poor sperm quality and an increased risk in testicular cancer.
Combination of Pain Relievers During Pregnancy or Dosage Taken During Second Trimester Increases Risks
The study discovered that combining any of the pain relievers including ASPIRIN®, acetominophen and ibuprofen increased the baby’s risk of developing cryptorchidism by seven times over women who did not take pain relievers. Findings also showed that a single dose of any of the above over-the-counter pain relievers during the mother’s second trimester of pregnancy (week 13-28) doubled the baby’s risk of cryptorchidism.
As it turns out, taking more than one pain reliever at the same time during the second trimester of pregnancy was particularly risky. Findings showed that mothers who took any combination of two pain relievers at once increased their male child’s risk of having undescended testicles by 16 times.
Male Reproductive Problems on the Rise
As a result of this new research, scientists speculate that the use of Tylenol, ibuprofen and/or ASPIRIN® could be one of the factors in causing the increase in male reproductive problems over the last several decades. Statistics show that there is a 68% increase of crytorchidism in male infants at three months of age since the 1950s.
Before taking any pain relievers during pregnancy, expectant mothers should consult with their care providers to be sure it is safe to do so.