The female offspring of mice given paracetamol while pregnant have shown signs of reduced fertility, scientists say.
Researchers are calling for an investigation into the impact the drug has on humans after the findings were released on Saturday.
“The studies found that female rats or mice whose mothers had been given paracetamol had a reduced number of eggs available for fertilisation,” University of Edinburgh MRC Centre for Reproductive Health’s Sarah Stock said.
But researchers said the findings don’t ring alarm bells as the dosages given to the rats and mice were the maximum recommended, and given over a full six months.
“This is not reflective of how paracetamol is commonly used in pregnancy,” University of Adelaide researcher Luke Grzeskowiak said.
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“Most pregnant women would only take the odd dose for a short period of time.”
However, the researchers added, the findings should be followed up by a human study.
“Further research is needed to find out whether similar effects are seen in girls and women born to mothers who took paracetamol in pregnancy, and if this has any effect on their fertility,” Dr Stock said.
The researchers advised against changing the approach to paracetamol based on the evidence, but reminded pregnant women seeking pain relief to use it at the lowest possible dose for the shortest possible time.