Estimates suggest that one in three pregnant women take painkillers could harm the fertility of both boys and girls.

Taking painkillers during pregnancy could affect the fertility of unborn children in later life, and that infertility could be passed further down the family tree, according to new research by scientists at the University of Edinburgh in the UK.

So according to the study, the painkillers affect the production of ovaries to producing to egg cells to almost half the normal production. Given that girls produce all their eggs in the womb, so being born with a reduced number could mean early onset of menopause, which in turn is associated with negative health outcomes such as osteoporosis.

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After a day of treatment with a human-equivalent dose of paracetamol, the number of sperm-producing cells dropped by 17 percent. After a week, there were almost one third fewer cells.

The painkillers’ effects on egg and sperm-producing cells are likely caused by their actions on molecules called prostaglandins, which have key functions in the ovaries and testes.

Women are usually advised to take the lowest possible dose of paracetamol for the shortest time possible. Aspirin is thought to be safe in low doses and some women are prescribed daily pills to reduce the risk of miscarriage.

An analysis of previous studies showed that prolonged exposure to paracetamol during pregnancy is associated with a 30 percent increase in relative risk for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and a 20 percent increase in relative risk for autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).

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The research data covered 132,738 mother and child pairs with a follow-up period of three to 11 years. The researchers, however, said that the results should be interpreted with caution, noting that pain and fever during pregnancy can have a detrimental effect on the developing foetus and that paracetamol is still considered safe for use during pregnancy if taken for a short period.

Basically,  the lesson here basically is when pregnant avoid taking unnecessary use of any medication. Over the counter, painkillers should not be a regular. When symptoms persist seek medical advice.