Only last week, a study linking the use of painkillers in pregnant women to an increase in undescended testicles for baby boys came out (over the counter pain killers not safe for baby boys?). Now, another study shows that mothers who use paracetamol while they are expecting are more likely to have babies that develop asthma later in life! A team from the The London School of Medicine and Dentistry examined existing data, and found that paracetamol use during pregnancy could be due to maternal antioxidant genes.
The scientists used date from the study British Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. This study followed 14,000 children from pregnancy to eight years old. What they were after was information about maternal antioxidants and their possible links to the toxicity of paracetamol for a fetus. Their findings confirmed that genetics influenced the chances that paracetamol exposure could boost asthma rates. One research team member, Dr Shaheen, explained: "Our latest findings add further weight to the evidence implicating prenatal paracetamol exposure in the development of childhood asthma. However, ultimately a cause and effect relationship can only be confirmed through randomized clinical trials."
This is the first time that I have heard of any link between asthma and paracetamol in pregnancy, and I am sure that there are many more factors at play when it comes to the development of this respiratory condition, including of course a family history of the disease. This bit of news is the latest in a series of recent developments that show that using over the counter painkillers while pregnant might not be as safe as was previously assumed, though. Thinking twice about whether you really want to take that tablet is always a good idea perhaps, we've simply become too dependent on over the counter medications, thinking that they can't do us any harm. But for pregnant women, it seems like a good idea to try and avoid pain killers as much as possible.