Paracetamol Use During Pregnancy: Impacts and Recommendations
Paracetamol or acetaminophen is one of the most common medicines used for relieving pain and…
Paracetamol or acetaminophen is one of the most common medicines used for relieving pain and reducing fever. It is also an ingredient in over 600 medicines. It is easily available over the counter and is thus most used by people.
Ideally, it is always advised for pregnant women to take precautions so that they do not need to take any medication. However, if you are unable to avoid medications, Is paracetamol safe to take during pregnancy? Read on to find out.
Understanding the Benefits and Risks of Using Paracetamol During Pregnancy
- Some recent studies claim that the use of tablets like paracetamol can cause adverse effects on reproductive development and neurodevelopment.
- Particularly in male fetuses, testicular function and sexual behavior can be adversely affected. The overall urogenital development is at risk.
- Neurotransmission is affected because of which there might be changes in locomotion, behavior, etc.
- An overdose can lead to more serious issues.
- Helps to relieve moderate pain.
- Helps to reduce fever. It is not safe for pregnant women to have a high fever. It could affect the fetus more than the medicine itself would, like causing cardiovascular diseases.
- Paracetamol is available over the counter almost everywhere in the world, hence making it easily accessible for people who need it.
Safe Dosage Guidelines for Pregnant Women
Pregnant women are usually always asked to stay away from any medication unless it is extremely necessary. Paracetamol is one of the most popular analgesics and antipyretics available. When in pain, while having a fever, or anxiety, most of us tend to pop this magic pill.
However, pregnant people should be cautious while using this or any other medicine. Having paracetamol regularly or in a high dosage could affect the development of your fetus.
An adult can take one or two 500mg tablets up to 4 times per day. Exceeding this dosage is not recommended unless you are advised to do so by your doctor. If your problems persist for more than 3 days, you should consult your doctor.
The Impact of Paracetamol on Fetal Development
As mentioned earlier, the impact on fetal development is on neurodevelopmental, reproductive, and urogenital aspects. The effects may also vary depending on the time of the pregnancy during which paracetamol was consumed. Neurodevelopmental issues are more prominent if paracetamol is taken during the second or third trimester. Whereas, reproductive and urogenital issues occur if the drug is taken during the first trimester.
1. Neuro-Developmental: Studies suggest that paracetamol affects the hormone-dependent mechanisms of the body. This leads to disruption in neurotransmission which can in turn affect cognitive behavior, locomotion, and so on, or cause autism and other such conditions.
2. Reproductive Disorders in Males and Females: There could be ovarian insufficiency, sperm abnormalities, etc. leading to infertility.
3. Urogenital Disorders: Testicular functions and sexual behavior could be affected too.
Alternatives to Paracetamol During Pregnancy
The truth is that these studies mentioned above are still ongoing. There are no clear instructions regarding what quantity and at what time of the pregnancy you can safely handle paracetamol. It is therefore best to not use paracetamol or any other medicine as much as possible. If you have regular headaches, body pain, anxiety, or any such issues, you should find natural alternatives to using paracetamol.
Some options that you can try are:
- Take head massages every day if you have a migraine or a regular headache.
- For body pain too, get regular massages. Massages are not only beneficial to your body, but they can also do magic for your mind.
- Different combinations of herbal products such as basil, ginger, turmeric, honey, and many more can be very effective as natural analgesics.
- As a precaution, include anti-inflammatory food items in your daily diet. For example, food rich in Omega 3 such as some fish, walnuts, etc. can be included in your menu.
- Meditation, yoga, and daily workout can help you avoid the use of paracetamol to a good extent.
- Always stay in touch with your doctor. Taking any medicine or a new food item should be done in consultation with your doctor, especially since you are pregnant.
Is Paracetamol Safe for Pregnant Women?
From what we have observed from the various available studies, paracetamol may be a necessity for pregnant women at times.
When there is a risk of high fever, which can lead to other major problems such as heart conditions, it is certainly okay to use paracetamol. In fact, It is often necessary.
However, excessive prenatal exposure to Paracetamol can cause several life-long conditions in unborn babies. Therefore taking precautions to avoid its usage as much as possible is the best way to go.
Final Thoughts and Recommendations for Expecting Mothers
From the existing evidence about the effect of paracetamol use during pregnancy, it is clear that experts expect mothers and their doctors to be more cautious and aware. Wherever possible, intake of such medicines should be avoided.
The important thing to remember is that during pregnancy, the reason for pain or fever could be more serious than at another phase in life. This being the case, it is always safest to consult your doctor and get a check-up. Trying to treat it yourself with a drug that you can buy without a prescription is rather unsafe. Bringing a healthy baby into the world is now your top priority.