Taking painkillers during pregnancy may lower the fertility of the unborn child in later life, scientists have warned.
The study identifies that these drugs may also affect the fertility of future generations, by leaving marks on DNA.
The findings add to a growing body of evidence that certain medicines, including paracetamol, should be used with caution during pregnancy.
Researchers stress that advice for pregnant women remains unchanged. Current guidelines say that, if necessary, paracetamol – also known as acetaminophen – should be used at the lowest possible dose for the shortest possible time. Ibuprofen should be avoided during pregnancy.
Scientists at the University of Edinburgh in the UK looked at the effects of paracetamol and ibuprofen on samples of human foetal testes and ovaries.
They found similar effects using several different experimental approaches, including lab tests on human tissue samples and animal studies.
Human tissues exposed to either drug for one week in a dish had reduced numbers of cells that give rise to sperm and eggs, called germ cells, the study found.
Ovaries exposed to paracetamol for one week had more than 40 per cent fewer egg-producing cells. After ibuprofen exposure, the number of cells was almost halved.
This is important because girls produce all of their eggs in the womb, so if they are born with a reduced number it could lead to an early menopause.
Painkiller exposure during development could have effects on unborn boys too, the study found. Testicular tissue exposed to painkillers in a culture dish had around a quarter fewer sperm-producing cells after exposure to paracetamol or ibuprofen.
The team also tested the effects of painkiller treatment on mice that carried grafts of human foetal testicular tissue.
These grafts have been shown to mimic how the testes grow and function during development in the womb.
After just one day of treatment with a human-equivalent dose of paracetamol, the number of sperm-producing cells in the graft tissue had dropped by 17 per cent. After a week of drug treatment, there were almost one third fewer cells.
Previous studies with rats have shown that painkillers administered in pregnancy led to a reduction in germ cells in female offspring. This affected their fertility and the fertility of females in subsequent generations.
The study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that exposure to paracetamol or ibuprofen triggers mechanisms in the cell that make changes in the structure of DNA, called epigenetic marks.
These marks can be inherited, helping to explain how the effects of painkillers on fertility may be passed on to future generations.
Painkillers’ effects on germ cells are likely caused by their actions on molecules called prostaglandins, which have key functions in the ovaries and testes, the researchers found.
“We would encourage women to think carefully before taking painkillers in pregnancy and to follow existing guidelines – taking the lowest possible dose for the shortest time possible,” said Rod Mitchell, from University of Edinburgh, who led the research.
Multiple checks give right BP, says study
Repeated blood pressure (BP) measurements are more representative of the true BP status of an individual as compared to a single reading that is usually taken and can actually show higher disease prevalence, a new study has said.
Titled “Impact of Repeated Blood Pressure Measurement on Blood Pressure Categorisation in a Population-Based Study from India”, the study that appeared in Nature’s Journal of Human Hypertension on Friday found 63% higher prevalence of hypertension when only the first reading was considered for diagnosis in comparison to the mean of the second and third readings.
The information was analysed from BP readings taken to generate data for the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4), a nationwide survey conducted in India in 2015-2016. Although the general consensus is that there should be multiple readings, there are no clear-cut guidelines on how many readings are good enough. Most doctors rely on a single reading primarily due to time constraints.
“Most people take one reading but, ideally, there should be at least three as usually the first reading is always on the higher side because when a patient walks in, he or she is usually a bit anxious. The later readings are likely to be lower,” said Dr D Prabhakaran, researcher from Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) and one of the authors of the study. “Since doctors are usually busy, the BP readings can be taken by a nurse,” he added.
The data was analysed for over three months, revised in March and accepted for publication on April 1. Researchers from the PHFI, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, and the Economics and Planning Unit of the Indian Statistical Institute, collaborated to analyse the data.
“Improper measurement of office BP can lead to inaccurate classification, overestimation of a patient’s true BP, unnecessary treatment, and misinterpretation of the true prevalence of hypertension,” the study said.
The researchers believe the findings will benefit both patients as well as the health care system.
Morning Rituals to Keep You Healthy
Most of us are required to wake up early in the morning to prepare foods for the kids, go to school or get ready for work. Our morning routine and rituals can help us optimize and determine how our day is going to be. A little change in our morning routine can do wonders for our health. Practicing these healthy morning rituals will surely improve your quality of life and improve overall health.
Morning Rituals to Try:
– Exercising for 7 minutes every morning. Why seven you ask? Seven minutes is enough to get your much needed pick me upper without sacrificing too much time in your morning routine. Exercising for seven minutes in the morning can remove the sluggish feeling you had the night before and can sweat off that mild hangover. If you can sacrifice more of your time or wake up earlier you can go for a longer workout.
– Never leave the house without eating. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for a reason. Grab your nearest fruit and vegetable if you’re running late. Eating later in the day will only slow down your metabolism, make you lose concentration and cranky. Make your morning meal healthier by creating a green smoothie. Making this smoothie will take a less longer time to make and can keep you energized till the afternoon. You can look up some amazing green smoothies online.
– Write down what the three important things you need to accomplish that day. Keeping a clear schedule in the morning will prevent giving you unwanted stress and confusion through the day.
– Stretch as soon as you wake up. Do the good morning sunshine bit by stretching your arms wide as soon as you wake-up and shake your body awake. If your mind has managed to remove its grogginess do some proper stretches. Stretch your back muscles, spine, legs, neck and arms. This will lessen muscle pain, improve your mood and energize your body.
– Walk around your bed or house when you still feel sleepy. Lying in bed will only cause you to fall asleep again and ruin your morning routine. Walking is one of the best ways to shake off sleepiness.
– It should be a common morning ritual to drink two glasses of water as soon as you wake up. We spend 6 to 10 hours sleeping without any water, making our body dehydrated in the morning. Starting off your day with two glasses of water will hydrate the body and start up metabolism. Drinking water in the morning will also help you digest better throughout the day and increase circulation in the body.
– Wash your face with ice cold water, doing this will surely remove any desire to sleep again. Doing this in the morning will help circulation on the face and moisturize the skin. This will also remove puffiness and exhaustion on the face.
– Include protein and fat in your morning meal, eating fat and protein early in the morning will keep you fuller longer and boost energy. It will also prevent unwanted mid- afternoon crashes.
– Cold shower in the morning can help boost metabolism, increase oxygen intake, reduce stress, prevent muscle pain and less pressure in the joint areas. Cold water will also make the skin look more moisturize and can make the hair look silky smooth. Yes, I know showering in cold water in the morning is a form of torture, but the health benefits are surely worth it.
Add chokeberries in porridge to help boost health
While bananas and blueberries have been commonly used in porridge, a new study suggests that adding chokeberries, called ‘the healthiest fruit in the world’, can help boost health.
High in antioxidants, chokeberries — native to North America and also known as aronia berries – are not damaged when mixed with porridge unlike some other fruits, the Daily Mail reported.
“The results demonstrate that porridge enriched with chokeberry fruit have a potential for becoming a good source of natural antioxidants,” said lead author Anna Oniszczuk from the Medical University of Lublin in Poland.
For the study, the team made porridge with varying contents of chokeberry, with the highest one containing 20% fruit.
The findings, published in De Gruyter’s journal, revealed that the nutritional properties of the porridge did not degrade during the production process, despite the high temperatures used.
This makes it appealing because the antioxidant capacity of some fruits can be significantly diminished by heat or oxidation during processing.
In addition, increasing the chokeberry fruit content made the breakfast bowl higher in antioxidants, polyphenols, flavonoids and free phenolic acids, the study said.
“Due to the high levels of antioxidants in the berry and its resistance to high temperatures during processing, the research highlights how important the berry could be for the production of functional foods such as porridge,” Oniszczuk said.
Besides their high concentration of antioxidants, chokeberries are full of vitamins, such as vitamin C and flavonoids.
Chokeberries are also believed to have anti-ageing properties, good for the heart and can even work as an aphrodisiac.