Babies are more likely to suffer from this incurable disease if their mother took common meds during pregnancy, a study suggests.
Newborns were almost two-and-a-half times more likely to suffer cerebral palsy, if their mother took aspirin during pregnancy.
Those whose mothers took paracetamol while pregnant were up to 50 per cent more likely to have the condition, the study of more than 180,000 women found. But no link was discovered with ibuprofen.
The scientists insist their findings do not prove the drugs are directly responsible for causing cerebral palsy, but that they had simply found a link and more research is therefore needed, reports Daily Mail.
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Currently, the painkillers are viewed as mostly safe for mothers-to-be, as long as they seek advice from their GP before taking them – but the team said this should now be reviewed.
The scientists, from the University of Copenhagen, studied 185,617 mothers and their babies living in Denmark and Norway, quizzing mothers on their use of painkillers in pregnancy.
Around 5,000 of the women took aspirin and a similar number took ibuprofen. Nearly 90,000 – almost half – admitted taking paracetamol while expecting.
The team found 357 babies went on to develop brain-related problems – and those born to mothers who took aspirin were at the higher risk of developing cerebral palsy on both sides of the body.
Babies exposed to paracetamol were 30 per cent more likely to have overall cerebral palsy and 50 per cent more likely to have it on one side. Ibuprofen had little or no impact.
The researchers said the biggest danger seemed to be from taking the painkillers in the middle stage of a pregnancy, which is a crucial time for brain development.
They suggested drugs such as paracetamol and aspirin could trigger toxic conditions in the developing brain that lead to permanent damage, or could disrupt the normal level of a mother’s hormones needed to regulate brain development.
The researchers, who published their findings in the International Journal of Epidemiology, said: ‘It remains controversial whether prenatal exposure to paracetamol or aspirin affects neurodevelopment.
‘Use of paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofen is generally perceived to be safe during pregnancy.
‘But there have been recent concerns about the effects on the developing brain.
‘The safety of these drugs now needs to be further evaluated and women should be further cautioned about their use in pregnancy.’
Research also suggests that pregnant women who take paracetamol may be putting their baby at risk of developing childhood asthma.
It has always been recommended if you take paracetamol when pregnant, make sure you take it for the shortest possible time. Consult your doctor first.
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