A new study led by the scientist of the University of Edinburgh suggests that during pregnancy taking painkillers could have a negative effect on the fertility of future generation by leaving marks on DNA.
The research also supports the previous fact that during pregnancy certain medicine like paracetamol should be avoided as it can show adverse effect during pregnancy.
According to the current guidelines for taking paracetamol is that it should be consumed only if necessary. Researchers stress that paracetamol like acetaminophen should be used at the lowest possible dose for the shortest possible time. Moreover, Ibuprofen should be avoided during pregnancy.
During their research, scientists exposed human tissues to different drug i.e. paracetamol and ibuprofen separately and observed their effects. They also analyzed effects of these drugs on samples of human fetal testes and ovaries using different experimental approaches.
Scientist observed that on exposing human tissues to either drug for one week shows a reduced number of germ cell which will give rise to sperm and egg. They also found that paracetamol also affected the ovaries and reduced the level of egg-producing cells by 40% while on exposure to ibuprofen level of egg-producing cell decreased by 50%.
This research shows that exposure to painkillers has negative effects on unborn girls as well as boys. In girls, it can cause early menopause because exposure to painkillers during development can reduce the number of eggs. For testing the effect on boys they exposed the testicular tissue to painkillers in a culture dish and found that the 1/4th of the sperm producing cells has been decreased on exposure to paracetamol and ibuprofen.
The team also tested the study in rats by treating them with painkillers and found the reduction in the germ cell of female offspring and also affected the fertility of future progenies.
A mechanism is triggered in the cell on exposure to paracetamol or ibuprofen which leads to marks on DNA called epigenetic marks which causes a change in the structure of the DNA. These marks can be inherited, helping to explain how the effects of painkillers on fertility may be passed on to future generations.
Dr. Rod Mitchell, who led the research at the University of Edinburgh’s MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, said: “We would encourage women to think carefully before taking painkillers in pregnancy and to follow existing guidelines – taking the lowest possible dose for the shortest time possible.”