New study suggests pregnant women should avoid taking paracetamol
Paracetamol is one of the most widely used over-the-counter pain medications used globally.
However, now a new Danish study suggests that women who are pregnant should be limiting their use of it.
The research, conducted by the University of Copenhagen, found that "the painkiller could affect foetal development and potentially increase the risk of brain and reproductive disorders in the child once it is born".
The study, published in Nature Reviews Endocrinology, specifically notes that it "increases the risk of certain neurodevelopmental, reproductive and urogenital disorders" in unborn babies.
The study authors reviewed research related to paracetamol use during pregnancy published over a 25-year-period, and found that prenatal exposure to paracetamol is associated with male urogenital and reproductive tract abnormalities, and earlier female pubertal development.
"The evidence supports that we have reasons to be concerned," Ann Bauer, an epidemiologist at the University of Massachusetts told USA TODAY.
"This is not cut-and-dry. We can't say don't ever use acetaminophen."
"We don't want to try and scare anybody ... but we want to see that 65 percent go down."
The study suggests the timing and duration of paracetamol use during pregnancy are critical factors in how it may impact foetal development, and as a result, the researchers are encouraging pregnant women to consult with a doctor and minimise the risk by using the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time.