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posted by janrinok on Wednesday March 30 2022, @05:16PM   Printer-friendly

Fathers Taking Diabetes Drug More Likely to Have Sons With Birth Defects, Study Finds:

A new study suggests that metformin, a widely used diabetes drug, could be dangerous for men to use if they're planning to have children. The research found a higher risk of genital birth defects in boys whose fathers had likely been taking metformin in the three months prior to conception. More data will be needed to understand whether this link represents a true cause-and-effect relationship and if it should change how the drug is prescribed.

Metformin is a generic drug that's proven to be an invaluable treatment for many people with type 2 diabetes. In combination with diet and exercise, metformin helps keep blood sugar levels in check. It's also often used off-label as a modest weight loss aid and to manage symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome, a hormonal condition that can raise the risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Some data has even suggested that it may help slow down cognitive decline in older patients.

As important as metformin is, no drug is without side effects. And some studies, largely in animals or in the lab, have suggested that the drug could negatively affect the male reproductive system. This new research, published Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine, seems to be the first large study of its kind to look for this potential impact in men.

The study authors analyzed population data from Denmark on over a million births recorded from 1997 to 2016. This data included information on prescribed medications filled by the parents of these children. And when they looked at the outcomes of children born to fathers who had filled a prescription for metformin during the preconception period, they found an overall higher rate of birth defects: about 5.4% for these children, compared to 3.3% of other children.

Journal Reference:
Maarten J. Wensink , Ying Lu , Lu Tian , et al. Preconception Antidiabetic Drugs in Men and Birth Defects in Offspring, Annals of Internal Medicine (DOI: 10.7326/M21-4389)


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  • (Score: 2) by Michael on Wednesday March 30 2022, @07:58PM (2 children)

    by Michael (7157) on Wednesday March 30 2022, @07:58PM (#1233583)

    We've known since it started being used widely decades ago that it has side effects. This particular one is newly detected, for obvious reasons, but like all medications it was always a possibility.

    Same with any technology, that's the risk you take. Same with doing anything at all in the physical world.

    You pays your money, you takes your chance.

    So if your intention was taking a poke at a specific medical treatment (for, ahem, "reasons") , you missed the "just like everything else" off the end.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 30 2022, @08:38PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 30 2022, @08:38PM (#1233591)

    They are also obviously missing the fact that we already knew it affected the male reproductive system, including spermatogenesis. That is the whole reason why someone decided to check whether those effects on the reproductive system could potentially also affect offspring now that we have large databases capable of doing such things. If someone believed that another treatment could have the same effect, they are free to check associations themselves or to propose a mechanism and test it.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 30 2022, @09:42PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 30 2022, @09:42PM (#1233612)

    What if I was forced to take metformin? Do I still "takes your chance"?