Researchers in Europe have linked over the counter painkillers to cryptorchidism in male infants. These mild painkillers may include ibuprofen, aspirin or paracetamol. Cryptorchidism is the medical term for testicles that do not drop out of the abdomen and into the scrotal sac. This condition may be linked to cancer and poor sperm quality/infertility later in life.

Male infertility problems have increased in the previous twenty years or more and researchers are constantly looking for reasons behind the increase. The effect of mild painkillers could be just the reason doctors have been searching for. The report is published in Human Reproduction.

In most cases of cryptorchidism, the testes will drop into the scrotal sac within a few months of birth. There are various degrees of the condition ranging from mild to severe. In severe cases, the testes cannot be felt from the outside and are located far up in the abdomen.

With most drug interactions, pregnant women are warned that the first trimester is the most crucial time. With mild or over the counter painkillers, this is not the case. Researchers found that weeks 13 to 28 were the times when the fetus could be affected most by painkillers.

What medications are most likely to increase the risk of cryptorchidism? Ibuprofen and aspirin increase the risk of the condition 4-fold. Paracetamol doubled the risk. When more than one painkiller was taken during this time the risk of cryptorchidism increased 16 times.

Source: David Møbjerg Kristensen, Ulla Hass, Laurianne Lesné, Grete Lottrup, Pernille Rosenskjold Jacobsen, Christele Desdoits- Lethimonier, Julie Boberg, Jørgen Holm Petersen, Jorma Toppari, Tina Kold Jensen, Søren Brunak, Niels E. Skakkebæk, Christine Nellemann, Katharina M. Main, Bernard Jégou, and Henrik Leffers. Human Reproduction. 8 November, 2010.

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