Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Does reading the Mail while pregnant harm your baby?

In the latest stage of the Mail's oncological ontology project (in which every item on earth is described as either curing cancer or giving you cancer), pregnant women are warned that taking aspirin while pregnant can give your baby son cancer in later life and also make him infertile.

Can taking aspirin in pregnancy make your son infertile?
Pregnant women who take painkillers such as paracetamol, aspirin and ibuprofen could put their unborn sons at risk of fertility problems, researchers warn ... using the drugs on their own or together may increase the risk of boys having undescended testicles, which can lead to poor sperm quality and testicular cancer in later life.
Quick! Pregnant ladies everywhere, you must throw out all of the painkillers you own or you could be putting your unborn child at risk! Or rather not, as you discover in the final paragraph:

Professor Richard Sharpe, of the Medical Research Council, said: "It is important to say it was prolonged use of painkillers that had the biggest effect. Taking one or two painkillers occasionally for a headache is not going to affect the baby."

In other words, and as explained quite clearly by the study itself, occassional use of a small number of painkillers is not going to cause a problem. So the alarmist headline is totally unjustified - only by dosing up on several different products at once are you going to risk causing any problems at all and I suspect that not many pregnant women knock back over-the-counter medication in serious quantities, for fairly obvious reasons. Mind you, couldn't blame them if they did. Because back in August
the Daily Mail informed us that:

Aspirin during pregnancy could prevent pre-eclampsia in thousands of women, says NHS
Taking aspirin in pregnancy could save thousands of women from developing a condition that can threaten the lives of both mother and baby, say new NHS guidelines.

And that followed on from the Mail's
somewhat similar 2007 declaration that:

Daily aspirin can cut risk of pre-eclampsia
A daily dose of aspirin during pregnancy could cut the risk of a condition developing that threatens the lives of mother and baby
Although I wouldn't relax too much, because the previous year the same Mail hackette
sounded the alarms:

Pregnancy alert over aspirin
Taking painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen in the first three months of pregnancy may increase the risk of birth defects, researchers say.

And the year before that, Jenny Hope (for it is she) wanted us to know that the
situation was even more serious:

Painkiller risk for mums-to-be
Taking painkillers such as aspirin in pregnancy almost doubles a woman's chances of losing her baby, claim researchers.
But it's
worth remembering that:

Aspirin can boost fertility
Research shows women on IVF treatment may be able to double their chances of getting pregnant simply by taking aspirin.
So to conclude, according to Daily Mail reports over the past decade, taking aspirin will:
  1. Help you get pregnant
  2. Put you at risk of miscarriage
  3. Reduce your risk of miscarriage
  4. Make your baby infertile and give him cancer

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