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Paracetamol was previously considered the safest painkiller during pregnancy. Based on previous data, safety appeared to be beyond doubt. Pregnant women were recommended to take this painkiller almost without hesitation if they had pain during pregnancy. However, based on current studies, a careful rethinking of this recommendation is necessary. New studies describe a possible link between exposure to paracetamol before birth and increased risk of asthma, other respiratory diseases and impaired testicular development. Contrary to previous recommendations, it is therefore not recommended to take paracetamol in mono- and especially combination preparations if you are pregnant or are already pregnant.

Prof. Hartmut Göbel, chief physician at the Kiel Pain Clinic ( “Until the exact connection is clarified, the principle must apply: In case of doubt, for the unborn life and against taking paracetamol, especially in combination with other painkillers. Due to the new data, short-term benefits and long-term lifelong risks are no longer balanced in the case of possible or existing pregnancy.”

The use of paracetamol by a pregnant woman and exposure of the unborn child to the drug appears to lead to a significantly increased risk of developing asthma and respiratory diseases in children, as well as possible infertility in boys. In recent years there has been a significant increase in the frequency of asthma globally. Paracetamol is the most commonly used painkiller in Germany. It is number 1 among the most commonly used medicines. At the same time, a significant increase in asthma has been noted in the population in recent years. Paracetamol can lead to a reduction in glutathione in the lungs. Glutathione is believed to play an important role in the development of asthma.

Paracetamol: Current warning against use during pregnancy

Paracetamol: Current warning against use during pregnancy

Particularly worrying is the justified suspicion of a significantly increased risk of developing the positional anomaly of the testicle in boys (cryptorchidism) according to new study results. For those affected, this can later lead to reduced fertility and an increased risk of developing malignant testicular tumors. Sperm count and sperm vitality in later life can be reduced. The combined use of two painkillers in pregnant women was associated with a sevenfold increase in the rate of cryptorchidism in newborn boys. It is suspected that the effects of one 500 mg tablet of paracetamol could be more harmful to the unborn child than the ten most common environmental pollutants. The studies were criticized because a causal connection had not yet been definitively proven.

Paracetamol was previously considered a safe, harmless, tolerable and inexpensive painkiller in therapeutic doses. The risk that an overdose of more than 150 mg per kg of body weight can trigger irreversible liver cell damage and even liver failure has already led to a limitation in the pack size in the context of self-medication. The new studies justified a significant rethinking of its use in possible, planned or existing pregnancy.

In general, you should avoid taking painkillers during pregnancy and breastfeeding. In individual cases, if the pain is particularly severe, acute medication can be considered after medical advice. However, it must be taken into account that so-called simple painkillers such as paracetamol only have a weak and short effect on the severe attack of pain, but at the same time can cause lasting lifelong risks for the unborn child.

Our conclusion

Contrary to previous recommendations, it is therefore not recommended to take paracetamol in mono- and especially combination preparations if you are pregnant or are already pregnant.


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