According to researchers at Edinburgh University in the UK, women should exercise caution when taking paracetamol during pregnancy using it as little as possible and avoiding it if they can.
The Telegraph reports that the study found the medication can cause changes to DNA, with possible permanent consequences on both male and female foetuses.
“Paracetamol and ibuprofen are commonly used during pregnancy,” Dr Channa Jayasena, senior clinical lecturer in reproductive endocrinology at Imperial College London tells The Telegraph. “However, over the last year, a growing number of reports have suggested that we might need to take a closer look at their safety in unborn babies. This latest study raises the possibility that paracetamol and ibuprofen may reduce the growth of the ‘germ cells’ which later become eggs or sperm in unborn babies.”
“While it is still premature to stop taking these important drugs, there is a growing case to investigate their safety for pregnant women,” she added.
According to the Australian government’s Health Direct website, “Paracetamol, which is not a Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), is usually recommended as a safer choice than ibuprofen but check the reason for pain with your midwife, doctor or pharmacist.”
"We would encourage women to think carefully before taking painkillers in pregnancy and to follow existing guidelines - taking the lowest possible dose for the shortest time possible," Dr Rod Mitchell, who led the research at the University of Edinburgh's MRC Centre for Reproductive Health told BBC.
Always speak with your health care practitioner for medical advice specific to you.