The findings of a new study have revealed that expectant mothers could harm the fertility of unborn baby girls by taking ibuprofen when pregnant.
The research team in France discovered that exposure to the painkiller may reduce the number of eggs a daughter has if taken during the first three months of pregnancy.
‘Baby girls are born with a finite number of follicles in their ovaries and this defines their future reproductive capacity as adults,’ explains Dr Séverine Mazaud-Guittot of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research.
‘A poorly stocked initial reserve will result in a shortened reproductive life span, early menopause or infertility – all events that occur decades later in life.’
The research team’s lead author went on to reveal that as little as a week of exposure to the over-the-counter drug did irreparable damage to the ovaries.
To reach their conclusion, researchers harvested the ovarian tissue of 185 pregnancies that had been legally terminated.
‘We found that two to seven days of exposure to ibuprofen dramatically reduced the germ cell stockpile in human foetal ovaries during the first trimester of pregnancy and the ovaries did not recover fully from this damage,’ continues Dr Séverine Mazaud-Guittot.
‘This suggests that prolonged exposure to ibuprofen during foetal life may lead to long-term effects on women’s fertility and raises concern about ibuprofen consumption by women during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.’
The NHS also advises against pregnant women using ibuprofen as a solution to ailments, stating that paracetamol is recommended as a safer choice.
If taken within the first 30 weeks of pregnancy, a mother-to-be may find herself at risk of complications such as miscarriage.
Consuming ibuprofen after this time could result in the baby having heart problems and a reduced amount of amniotic fluid.