New research suggests that taking paracetamol during pregnancy could impair the future fertility of female offspring when they reach adulthood.
Paracetamol is a common pain relief treatment often taken by women during pregnancy.
There is already evidence to suggest that the use of paracetamol while pregnant can disrupt the reproductive system in male children, but the effect on females has not been fully investigated.
So, researchers from Copenhagen University Hospital reviewed three rodent studies investigating the drug.
They found that rodents who were given paracetamol during pregnancy at doses equivalent to what a woman might take for pain relief produced offspring with fewer eggs, meaning they have a reduced chance of successfully having children when they are older.
“Although this may not be a severe impairment to fertility, it is still of real concern since data from three different labs all independently found that paracetamol may disrupt female reproductive development in this way, which indicates further investigation is needed to establish how this affects human fertility,” said David Kristensen from the University of Copenhagen.
It is important to note, however, that despite rat studies being a good indicator, their results are not always replicated in humans. The scientists say that more research needs to be done to try and establish a concrete link between paracetamol and impaired fertility in female offspring.