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Have you ever wondered if it was safe to take over the counter pain killers in pregnancy, only to be told that there was no need to worry at all? Your fears might be justified after all. Pain killers for which you don't need a prescription like Tylenol, paracetamol, Aspirin, and ibuprofen, might not be as harmless as was previously thought, according to a study published earlier this week in the journal Human Reproduction.

The study found that using over the counter pain killers in pregnancy may be linked to an increase in male reproductive disorders. The research team was comprised of scientists from Denmark, Finland and France. They looked at 834 expectant mothers in Denmark and 1,463 in Finland, and found that the use of pain killers in pregnancy, something that was presumed to be safe up to now, was associated with a slight rise in the number of undescended testicles in male infants in the Finnish group. The Danish group did not seem to be affected, however. A two percent rate of undescended testicles in the pain killer group matches the numbers in the general population. In Finland, that figure rose to nine percent for baby boys whose mothers had taken some kind of over the counter pain killer while they were pregnant.

Undescended testicles at birth are not a big problem, and one that often corrects itself a bit later in infancy, and it is still unclear if the slight increase can really be blamed on popular headache remedies. But these results do call for further research into the safety of painkillers in pregnancy, and the possible long-term health complications for babies who were exposed to them in the womb. It might make pregnant women think twice if they want to cure simple ailments like pregnancy headaches or backaches with paracetomol, or whether they'd rather try natural remedies instead.

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