Scientists call for reduced use of paracetamol by pregnant woman, cites neurological and reproductive disruption in children

September 27, 2021
Scientists call for reduced use of paracetamol by pregnant woman

Paracetamol (acetaminophen or APAP) is a common painkiller – of its many uses, it is one of the few available drugs to relieve pains such as fever and aches during pregnancy. However, a newly published consensus statement is calling for “cautious and conservative” use of paracetamol in pregnant women; a large body of research data indicates potential neurological and reproductive issues in children associated with excessive use of paracetamol during pregnancy.

The consensus statement, co-signed by nearly 100 scientists, suggests APAP alters the development of the human reproductive tract in both sexes. The scientists have also identified modest but significant associations between prenatal APAP exposure and behavioral problems in children, including ADHD and language delays.

[The largest effect sizes detected in this research review came from consistent use of APAP for over two weeks.]

The scientists so conclude that APAP only be used cautiously during pregnancy, “at the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time.”

Read: Pregnant women pass along protective COVID antibodies to their babies

Meanwhile, other experts have said the new recommendations could raise unnecessary anxiety and disrupt patient compliance: Stephen Evans, from the London School of Hygiene and Epidemiology, mentioned that most pregnant women are aware of the unnecessary use of drugs, but added that, “raising anxiety about their unborn child is often itself unnecessary and has obvious adverse consequences.”

Ian Musgrave, a pharmacologist from the University of Adelaide, agreed with the call for more judicious use of APAP. He also said that pregnant women should not steer away from the drug altogether as there are cases where its use is important.

Musgrave’s sentiment is echoed by Dr. Christopher Zahn, from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, who reiterated that pregnant individuals should not be concerned about taking APAP for a given clinical condition.

“Physicians should not change clinical practice until definitive prospective research is done and, most importantly, patients should not be frightened away from the many benefits of acetaminophen,” Zahn finalised.

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Category: Features, Pharmaceuticals

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