Scientists have warned pregnant women against the indiscriminate use of paracetamol, noting that it may affect foetus development.
The scientists stressed that pregnant women should only use paracetamol after consultation with their physician, disclosing that new studies have revealed that the medication can affect the foetus.
The scientists made the call in a statement published in Nature Review Endocrinology, a monthly peer-reviewed medical journal covering all aspects of endocrinology.
According to the researchers, the active ingredient in pain-relieving drugs may affect the development of the unborn child.
They noted that Paracetamol (N-acetyl-p-aminophenol (APAP), otherwise known as acetaminophen) has an ingredient that may not be safe for the foetus.
The scientists said that their statement is supported by 91 scientists, clinicians and public health professionals from across the globe.
The statement partly reads, “APAP is widely used by pregnant women as governmental agencies, including the FDA and EMA, have long considered APAP appropriate for use during pregnancy when used as directed.
“However, increasing experimental and epidemiological research suggests that prenatal exposure to APAP might alter fetal development, which could increase the risks of some neurodevelopmental, reproductive and urogenital disorders.
“We call for precautionary action through a focused research effort and by increasing awareness among health professionals and pregnant women.
“APAP is an important medication and alternatives for the treatment of high fever and severe pain are limited.
“We recommend that pregnant women should be cautioned at the beginning of pregnancy and should forego APAP unless its use is medically indicated.
“They should consult with a physician or pharmacist if they are uncertain whether the use is indicated and before using on a long-term basis, and minimize exposure by using the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time.”
The researchers, who are from the US, Sweden, Denmark, Brazil, and France disclosed further that human observational studies suggest that exposure to paracetamol during pregnancy “increases the risk of adverse neurodevelopmental and behavioural outcomes, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder, language delay (in girls) and decreased intelligence quotient.”
They called for further research to provide evidence-based medical guidance for APAP use by pregnant women and to create awareness so women can make informed decisions that will lead to minimizing APAP exposure.