Around 47 per cent of pregnant women take painkillers during pregnancy according to a study by the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, a press release said Wednesday (November 15, 2017). Some 86 per cent of women take paracetamol over a short period of time and in small doses. However, researchers at UKE pointed to the risk of side effects from painkillers when taken regularly and in an unconsidered fashion.
Paracetamol during pregnancy
Paracetamol is an approved drug and can be taken in all three trimesters of pregnancy. Dr. Anke Diemert, manager of the study at UKE’s Department of Obstetrics and Prenatal Medicine, said: “In reference to pregnancy, hardly any detailed data about the frequency and length of consumption have been available in Germany so far. Recent studies indicate a higher risk of asthma after taking paracetamol during pregnancy. Therefore, data about the consumption of paracetamol during pregnancy is urgently needed.”
Data of 518 pregnant women analysed
As part of the Prenatal Determinants of Children’s Health (PRINCE) study, a total of 518 pregnant women were asked once per trimester about their consumption of painkillers. For years, researchers at UKE have examined factors in pregnancy that could have a long-term impact on a child’s health. Some 47 per cent of pregnant women took a painkiller at least once during pregnancy and 86 per cent took paracetamol briefly and only in small doses. Prof. Dr. Gisa Tiegs, Director of the Institute for Experimental Immunology and Hepatology, said: “Women taking part in the study and who had given birth at UKE were asked for a sample of umbilical cord blood. This allowed us to examine the link between taking paracatemol and the number of haematopoietic stem cells in a subgroup of women.”
Taking paracetamol in the third trimester of pregnancy can lower the amount of haematopoietic stem cells in umbilical cord blood, the study found. Research is now underway to determine the impact of fewer stem cells and how children’s immune systems develop as a result.
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