Paracetamol in pregnancy may lower testosterone in unborn boys

May 20, 2015, University of Edinburgh
Tylenol 500 mg capsules. Credit: Wikipedia

Prolonged paracetamol use by pregnant women may reduce testosterone production in unborn baby boys, research has found.

Researchers say their findings could help to explain reported links between paracetamol use in pregnancy and reproductive health problems in young boys.

Paracetamol is the primary medicine used for managing pain and fever during pregnancy.

The authors recommend that expectant mothers should follow existing guidelines that the painkiller be taken at the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time.

Testosterone, produced in the testicles, is crucial for life-long male health. Reduced exposure to the hormone in the womb has been linked to an increased risk of infertility, testicular cancer and undescended testicles.

The University of Edinburgh study tested the effect of paracetamol on testosterone production in mice that carried grafts of human testicular tissue. These grafts have been shown to mimic how the developing testes grow and function during pregnancy.

Scientists gave the mice a typical daily dose of paracetamol - over a period of either 24 hours or seven days. They measured the amount of testosterone produced by the human tissue an hour after the final dose of paracetamol.

They found there was no effect on testosterone production following 24 hours of paracetamol treatment. After seven days of exposure, however, the amount of was reduced by 45 per cent.

The team - from the University's MRC Centre for Reproductive Health - say further research is required to establish the mechanism by which paracetamol might have this effect.

The study is published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. It is funded by the Wellcome Trust, the British Society of Paediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes and the Medical Research Council.

Dr Rod Mitchell, a Wellcome Trust Intermediate Clinical Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, said: "This study adds to existing evidence that prolonged use of in may increase the risk of reproductive disorders in male babies.

"We would advise that should follow current guidance that the painkiller be taken at the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time."

Explore further: Reported link between early life exposure to paracetamol and asthma 'overstated'

More information: S. van den Driesche et al. Prolonged exposure to acetaminophen reduces testosterone production by the human fetal testis in a xenograft model. Science Translational Medicine, 20 May 2015. stm.sciencemag.org/lookup/doi/ … scitranslmed.aaa4097

Related Stories

Reported link between early life exposure to paracetamol and asthma 'overstated'

November 25, 2014
Respiratory infections are likely to have an influential role, the findings suggest. And the evidence is simply not strong enough to warrant changes to current guidance on the use of this medicine, say the researchers.

Paracetamol is ineffective for lower back pain

March 31, 2015
Paracetamol is not effective in the treatment of spinal pain and provides negligible benefits for osteoarthritis, according to a study published in The BMJ today.

Sweden bans supermarket paracetemol sales after overdose hike

April 29, 2015
Sweden said Wednesday that it will ban the sale of paracetamol tablets in supermarkets due to a sharp rise in overdoses in the six years since they became available outside of pharmacies.

Risks of taking paracetamol long-term may have been underestimated by clinicians

March 2, 2015
Doctors may have underestimated the risks for patients who take paracetamol long-term, suggests research published online in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Male health linked to testosterone exposure in womb, study finds

April 22, 2014
Men's susceptibility to serious health conditions may be influenced by low exposure to testosterone in the womb, new research suggests.

Paracetamol poisoning treatment guidelines costing NHS millions

March 26, 2014
Strict guidelines for treating paracetamol overdoses – introduced 18 months ago – are costing the NHS millions of pounds a year, researchers claim.

Recommended for you

Probiotic use may reduce antibiotic prescriptions, researchers say

September 14, 2018
Use of probiotics is linked to reduced need for antibiotic treatment in infants and children, according to a review of studies that probed the benefits of probiotics, say researchers in the U.S., England and the Netherlands.

Recalled blood pressure drugs not linked to increased short term cancer risk

September 12, 2018
Products containing the withdrawn blood pressure drug valsartan are not associated with a markedly increased short term risk of cancer, finds an expedited analysis published by The BMJ today.

Sugar pills relieve pain for chronic pain patients

September 12, 2018
Someday doctors may prescribe sugar pills for certain chronic pain patients based on their brain anatomy and psychology. And the pills will reduce their pain as effectively as any powerful drug on the market, according to ...

A new approach for finding Alzheimer's treatments

September 11, 2018
Considering what little progress has been made finding drugs to treat Alzheimer's disease, Maikel Rheinstädter decided to come at the problem from a totally different angle—perhaps the solution lay not with the peptide ...

One in four older adults prescribed a benzodiazepine goes on to risky long-term use

September 10, 2018
They may start as well-intentioned efforts to calm anxiety, improve sleep or ease depression. But prescriptions for sedatives known as benzodiazepines may lead to long-term use among one in four older adults who receive them, ...

Clinical need absent, unclear in nearly 30 percent of outpatient opioid prescriptions

September 10, 2018
Nearly 30 percent of outpatient opioid prescriptions in the United States lack documented clinical reasons that justify the use of these potent drugs, according to a national analysis of physician visit records conducted ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.