Widely used for pain and fever and sold without a prescription, ibuprofen is believed to interfere with the development of the genitals of unborn boys. This confirms the new study published in Scientific Reports and carried out by Inserm researchers within the Institute for Research in Health, Environment and Work.
Like aspirin or paracetamol, ibuprofen is one of the drugs generally allowed in early pregnancy. Nearly one in ten women say they took it during pregnancy, according to the study. But in reality, they would be up to three in ten to take it in self-medication.
Should we then treat the ailments of pregnancy by taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs? Recent epidemiological research carried out in recent years has shown that an association between taking analgesics (drugs having the role of reducing pain) during pregnancy led to the appearance of undesirable effects in unborn children (low weight, asthma, prematurity.
The most widely used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug in France, ibuprofen relieves headaches, fever or joint, lumbar, muscle, dental or gynaecological pain.
Risks of reproductive system abnormalities in new boys
Surprising? not that much. Some additional research combining epidemiology and experimentation, and undertaken in collaboration with Danish researchers at the University of Copenhagen, had also mentioned increased risks of abnormalities in the reproductive system of unborn boys. To know :
- Cryptorchidism: poor descent of the testicles, which increases the risk of infertility or testicular cancer
- Hypospadias: a malformation of the urethra
To confirm these data, Inserm researchers then articulated two series of tests but devoted only to the 1st and 2nd trimesters of pregnancy. The objective is to study the effects of ibuprofen on the human fetal testis.
Disruption of the hormonal system in the fetal testis
In the end, these tests revealed various actions of the drug on the testicular level:
- Decreased testosterone levels
- Decreased levels of the anti-Müllerian hormone (hormone of masculinization of the genital tract)
- Reduced expression of genes involved in sperm production.
These results were seen in early pregnancy, mainly between the eighth and tenth weeks, and at doses similar to those seen in women taking ibuprofen. However, no effect was seen during the tests performed in the second trimester.
“We found that between the 8th and 10th week of pregnancy, ibuprofen hard pounding. However, during this period, the individual is in full training. This is a very sensitive window for the morphological and genetic development of its sexual organs,” indicates Bernard Jégou, Inserm research director and coordinator of this study.
What about regulations?
“The current recommendations of the National Medicines Safety Agency are to avoid the consumption of ibuprofen from the sixth month of pregnancy, in order to limit vascular and renal risks”, recalls Bernard Jégou. Given the results of these experiments, the researcher calls for an intensification of research.
Also Read: Here Is How To Stay Healthy During Pregnancy