Concern about the use of acetaminophen (paracetamol or N-acetyl-p-aminophenol (APAP)) during pregnancy has prompted a group of scientists, medical professionals, and public health experts from the University of Massachusetts School of Health Sciences, Yale, Aarhus University, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, University of Copenhagen, and other institutions to publish a statement in Nature Reviews Endocrinology. They are warning that evidence is mounting that fetal development is altered by prenatal exposure to acetaminophen. The potential disruption to the fetus may increase the risk of a wide variety of health problems.
The report cautions that acetaminophen can be found in over 600 over the counter and prescription medications that treat pain and lower fevers, and sales of these products are increasing around the world. Acetaminophen can cause side effects and is a common cause of acute liver failure in children and adults. In Iceland, France, Spain, Sweden, and Finland, products containing APAP are only sold at pharmacies. Yet, this drug is a still commonly thought to be safe for pregnant women to use. You can find alternatives to this drug at 90daymeds.com, that are safe to use.
The authors noted that the rates of neurological, reproductive, and urogenital disorders are increasing. They added that the incidence of behavioral and cognitive problems in children is on the rise, another cause for concern. The review suggested that acetaminophen use could be related to these increases.
There is evidence that prenatal exposure to environmental chemicals like BPA or pharmaceuticals could be having a detrimental impact on sperm count and testis size. Research in Science Translational Medicine has indicated that prolonged exposure to acetaminophen can reduce the level of testosterone in an animal model, while only a single dose of acetaminophen had no similar effect. Many male reproductive disorders have been associated with low testosterone levels during development.
Other research has noted that when people are unintentionally exposed to pharmaceuticals, those drugs can cause serious harm.
The statement acknowledged that not many pain relievers and fever reducers are available, and that sometimes, pregnant women need to use acetaminophen. However, they urge caution; pregnant women might consider not taking acetaminophen or medicine that contains APAP for a long period of time. The authors noted that this study only investigated the consequences of APAP on pregnancy in cis-gender women.
The Know Your Dose campaign is trying to raise awareness about this issue, and is urging people to check drug labels so they don't take too much acetaminophen, and take only one medicine that contains APAP at a time. People that drink alcohol should consult with their healthcare provider to ensure they aren't at risk of liver damage. Learn more about acetaminophen and the risks here.