Acetaminophen, commonly known by the brand name Tylenol, is one of the most commonly used pain relievers in the United States. It has long been known to be damaging to the liver if more than the recommended amount is taken, which is the leading cause of calls to poison control centers and causes another 60,000 emergency room visits in the U.S. each year.
However, a new study conducted by researchers at Edinburgh University and published in the journal Science Transitional Medicine this week concludes that the drug may also be harmful in the development of male children during pregnancy. The researchers conducted a test on mice using human tissue in a manner designed to mimic the development and function of testes during human pregnancy. They found that after a week, mice that were regularly given an amount of acetaminophen equivalent to a normal human dose had levels of testosterone 45 percent lower than those that had not received the drug. Reduced fetal exposure to testosterone during pregnancy has previously been linked to undescended testicles, infertility, and testicular cancer.
“We would advise that pregnant women should follow current guidance that the painkiller be taken at the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time,”
said lead researcher Rod Mitchell of Edinburgh University.
Acetaminophen blocks pain signals from travelling to the brain and thereby prevent a person from feeling pain. This is a fairly unique mechanism among over-the-counter pain relievers, most of which fall within the group “non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs” (NSAIDS) and work by reducing inflammation that causes most bodily pain. Tylenol, which is not a member of this group, is frequently employed throughout pregnancy.
Read more here – “Paracetamol/Tylenol in Pregnancy May Lower Testosterone in Boys,” (Kate Kelland, Reuters).