Naturally Healthy: A mother is a vessel especially when pregnant. And how well the vessel can determine to a large extent the wellbeing of its content (child).
Researchers have known for decades that fevers in the first trimester of pregnancy increase risk for some heart defects and facial deformities such as cleft lip or palate.
Until now, the underlying reason has remained vague.
According to findings by Duke Researchers, demonstrated in animal embryos, published Oct. 10 in the journal Science Signaling, FEVER is the culprit interfering with the development of the heart and jaw during the first three to eight weeks of pregnancy.
According to senior author Eric Benner, M.D., Ph.D., a neonatologist and assistant professor of pediatrics at Duke.
“My hope is that right now, as women are planning to become pregnant and their doctors advise them to start taking prenatal vitamins and folic acid, their doctor also informs them if they get a fever, they should not hesitate to call and consider taking a fever reducer, specifically acetaminophen (Tylenol), which has been studied extensively and determined to be safe during the first trimester,” Benner said. “While doctors advise most women to avoid any drug during pregnancy, there may be benefits to taking acetaminophen to reduce fever. Women should discuss all risks and benefits with their doctors.”
How safe is acetaminophen?
“However, its judicious use for an acute problem such as fever is considered safe. These findings suggest we can reduce the risk of birth defects that otherwise could lead to serious health complications requiring surgery,” he said.
“We have known since the early 1980s that fevers are associated with birth defects, but how that was happening has been a complete mystery,” Benner said. It is challenging to gather data from mothers on the circumstances, severity or duration of a fever from many months before, he said.
“I hope moving forward, we can educate more women about fever as a risk factor for birth defects and let them know they shouldn’t just tough it out if they develop a fever,” Benner said. “They should ask their doctor before getting pregnant whether they may benefit from taking a fever-reducer such as acetaminophen in the event they develop a fever.
Duke University Medical Center
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