Study finds paracetamol during pregnancy makes kids ‘less masculine and less attracted to females’
A new study claims taking paracetamol while pregnant can make children less attracted to women.
The international study found that mice given paracetamol in the womb would be “less masculine”.
It also discovered that the mice were less likely to mate with women and were less agressive.
The study backs up findings from a similar investigations by the same set of scientists.
A previous study found that paracetamol – which is considered safe to take during pregnancy – may affect reproductive organs of humans and rodents, including malformations in newborn boys.
The research, published in Reproduction, found that the mice born from mothers taking paracetamol “had a less aggressive territorial display towards intruders of the same gender” and fewer sexual interactions and ejaculations during mating.
Experts now say the research is “of particular concern”.
Scietists from the University of Copenhagen, supported by experts in the US, Brazil, France and Sweden, say it should call into questions how paracetamol is prescribed.
However UK experts say the evidence should not be considered conclusive, due to the amount of exposure the mice had to paracetamol
While most pregnant women would take paracetamol for 24 to 48 hours, the mice were exposed to it for as much as two thirds of their pregnancy.
Dr Rod Mitchell, of Edinburgh university, said: “It has been shown that prolonged paracetamol exposure for seven days can reduce testosterone production by the human foetal testis, whereas, short-term exposure (24 hours) does not.
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“This new study reinforces the current recommendation from the Department of Health that pregnant women should only use paracetamol for the minimum period necessary to provide symptomatic relief of pain and fever.”
Dr Ali Abbara, of Imperial College London, said: “It would certainly be useful to have more studies assessing the safety of paracetamol use during human pregnancy.
“A useful principle is to use as few medications that are not essential for health for as short a duration of time as is possible during pregnancy.”
Dr Channa Jayasena, also from Imperial, said: “Mice are over 1,000 times lighter than humans, so it is tricky to compare doses between the species. When the paracetamol dose was corrected for body weight, no bad effects were seen in mice – only excessive paracetamol doses caused problems.
“We should always be vigilant to the safety of drugs, but we need more much evidence before saying paracetamol is unsafe.”