Mothers taking paracetamol during pregnancy could unwittingly be damaging the reproductive systems of their baby girls. The painkiller may even have lasting effects on their granddaughters’ fertility.
Women who consume acetaminophen — also called paracetamol and widely used to reduce a high fever or relieve pain — during early pregnancy are six times more likely to see the delay in their daughters’ language skills, warns a new study.
Acetaminophen is the active ingredient in Tylenol and hundreds of over-the-counter and prescription medicines.
The maternal intake of acetaminophen saw a reduction in the intelligence quotient level along with increasing language delay, defined as the use of lesser than 50 words, by the kids.
The communication delay affected boys at the same time, but was more prevalent among the girls, the study showed.
“Given the prevalence of prenatal acetaminophen use and the importance of language development, our findings, if replicated, suggest that pregnant women should limit their use of this analgesic during pregnancy,” said Shanna Swan, Professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, US.
“It’s important for us to look at language development because it has shown to be predictive of other neurodevelopmental problems in children,” Swan added.
The study, published in the journal European Psychiatry, examined 754 women, who were in eight-13 weeks of pregnancy.
Researchers asked participants to report the number of acetaminophen tablets they had taken between conception and enrollment, and tested the acetaminophen concentration in their urine at enrollment.
Both the number of tablets and concentration in urine were associated with a significant increase in language delay in girls, with a slight decrease in boys.
Previous studies have found that the overexposure to the pain-relieving drug during pregnancy also damages the fertility of the daughters.