Painkillers During Pregnancy Can Reduce Female Fertility, Study Finds
During an experiment, the researchers fed painkillers to pregnant rats. The offspring of these rats had fewer eggs, smaller ovaries and they produced fewer babies compared to those that were not exposed to the drugs. Male offspring that were exposed also showed signs of birth defects, where they had small numbers of cells that lead to the development of sperm, however their reproductive systems reached normal levels by the time they reached adulthood.
The researchers compared the findings of the rats' reproductive systems to humans, where some aspects may correlate. The researchers suggested that pregnant women should keep painkillers to a minimum and for short periods.
"It's important to remember that this study was conducted in rats not humans, however, there are many similarities between the two reproductive systems," Richard Sharpe, coauthor of the study, said in a news release. "We now need to understand how these drugs affect a baby's reproductive development in the womb so that we can further understand their full effect."
The researchers tested the effects of the painkillers the on rats, which were given paracetamol for nine days and indomethacin (a prescription-only painkiller) for four days. The team noted that the effects of the drugs within one to four days.
The researchers could not translate these effects directly to humans, since the pace of fetal development is much slower in humans than in rats.
"These studies involved the use of painkillers over a relatively long period," said Richard Anderson, coauthor of the study. "We now need to explore whether a shorter dose would have a similar effect, and how this information can be usefully translated to human use."
The findings of this study were published in Scientific Reports.
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