Drug used to treat diabetes linked to higher risk of birth defects

Each drug has side effects that can have health impacts, but can also be insignificant. A study looked at the side effects of a drug widely used to treat diabetes and came up with a rather disturbing discovery. The drug in question, known as metformin, is believed to be linked to an increased risk of birth defects.

Metformin is an effective drug commonly prescribed to patients suffering from type 2 diabetes. It is a product accessible to the general public and which is also inexpensive.

The study was published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine and the researchers focused on the case of fathers who take this drug.

The case of diabetic fathers

The study was carried out by Danish researchers and it found that men with diabetes who took metformin in the three months before conception were 40% more likely to have children with birth defects. However, the study, which analyzed more than a million births between 1997 and 2016, does not give details about the malformations. We simply know that they are genital, and that they mainly affect newborn males.

Statistics show that the frequency of birth defects in babies born to fathers with type 2 diabetes is 3.1%. This frequency rises to 4.6% for babies whose fathers took metformin in the 3 months before conception.

The study focused on babies born to non-diabetic mothers under 35 and to diabetic fathers under 40. According to the researchers, it was undertaken because diabetes impairs the quality of sperm and manifests itself more and more during the reproductive years.

A discovery that could affect the treatment of diabetes

The researchers also looked at fathers taking insulin and found that it was not linked to birth defects in the same way as metformin. They also determined that taking metformin before the three-month period before conception corresponded to a lower risk of having a child with a birth defect.

The scientists said further studies should clarify causation, but for now the question is whether this finding will have any impact on taking the drug metformin.

Maarten Wensink, an epidemiologist at the University of Southern Denmark and co-author, said metformin was effective, cheap and safe for the person taking it. For him, these are important factors to take into account. He added that whether or not to take this drug is a decision each patient should discuss with their doctor.

SOURCE: Futuristic

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