Washington: A new study has suggested that use of mild painkillers during pregnancy may be a reason for the increase in male reproductive disorders in recent decades.
The new research has shown that women who took a combination of more than one mild analgesic during pregnancy, or who took the painkillers during the second trimester of pregnancy, had an increased risk of giving birth to sons with undescended testicles (cryptorchidism).
It is a condition that is known to be a risk factor for poor semen quality and testicular germ cell cancer in later life.
The researchers from Denmark, Finland and France found that women, who used more than one painkiller simultaneously like paracetamol and ibuprofen, had a seven-fold increased risk of giving birth to sons with some form of cryptorchidism compared to women who took nothing.
The second trimester appeared to a particularly sensitive time. Any analgesic use at this point in the pregnancy more than doubled the risk of cryptorchidism.
Of the individual painkillers, ibuprofen and aspirin approximately quadrupled the risk of cryptorchidism, while a doubling of the risk was found for paracetamol.
Simultaneous use of more than one painkiller during this time increased the risk 16-fold.
Ulla Hass at the Technical University of Denmar and Bernard Jegou from INSERM (Institut National de la Sante at de la Recherche Medicale) found that analgesics disrupted androgen production, leading to insufficient supplies of the male hormone testosterone during the crucial early period of gestation when the male organs were forming.
The researchers also found that mild analgesics reduced levels of testosterone in the rat foetal testis by approximately 50 percent.