Common painkiller should be investigated for possible risks to developing fetuses, experts say

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An international group of experts is cautioning against the use of acetaminophen during pregnancy until the painkiller is thoroughly investigated for potentially endangering fetal development.
(CNN) An international group of 13 scientists has released a statement calling for the health care community to carefully consider the use of acetaminophen (APAP) during pregnancy until the painkiller is thoroughly investigated for any potential impact on fetal development in the womb. Outside the United States, acetaminophen is known as paracetamol.

According to the statement published Thursday in the journal Nature Reviews Endocrinology , a growing body of research shows that "prenatal exposure to APAP might alter fetal development, which could increase the risks of some neurodevelopmental, reproductive and urogenital disorders."

The statement is not health guidance, but urges health care providers and regulators to take action.

"The authors are not recommending anything counter to what is already done by obstetrician-gynecologists when prescribing acetaminophen for a given clinical condition," said Dr. Christopher Zahn, vice president of practice activities for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, who was not involved in the statement.

"However, as always, any medication taken during pregnancy should be used only as needed, in moderation, and after the pregnant patient has consulted with their doctor," he added.

'Medically indicated'

Signed by 91 scientists from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Europe, Israel, Scotland, the UK and US, the consensus statement calls for pregnant women to be cautioned to "forgo use" of acetaminophen during pregnancy "unless its use is medically indicated."

Even after getting approval from a physician, the statement said, women should "minimize exposure by using the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time."

"There are good medical reasons for pregnant women to use APAP, after consulting physicians or pharmacists, and that is for fever and severe pain," said David Kristensen, an associate professor of cell biology and physiology at the University of Copenhagen and one of the 13 co-authors of the…
Sandee LaMotte, CNN
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