Metformin is the most commonly prescribed allopathic medicine for type 2 diabetes. “Metformin is widely used even by young men because of the obesity problem we have. So that’s a potentially huge source of impact for the next generation,” says Germaine Buck Louis, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at George Mason University, who wrote an editorial published with the study.
According to a study published Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, male use of metformin in the three months before conception was associated with a 40% higher risk of birth defects in offspring.
The analysis, which was conducted in Denmark, used federal registries to track over a million births during the period from 1997 to 2016 and compared the risk of serious birth defects in children based on the father’s exposure to the diabetes drug. The research only considered babies born to women under 35 and men under 40 years old. Children that were delivered by women that suffered from diabetes were eliminated.
The researchers were also quick to note the limitations of this study. Although it was big, it only focused on babies in one part of the world – and more studies need to be done. It also didn’t completely rule out other factors, like socioeconomic status or how compliant men were in taking the medication. However, it will definitely be important to further investigate this link, especially as more and more millions of people start taking this drug.
The researchers considered men exposed to metformin if they completed the prescription within three months of conception, the time when sperm fertilization reaches full maturity.
Metformin may cause birth defects.
According to the study, the incidence of birth defects in children of men diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, but not taking metformin, was 3.1% (1,594 children), while in children exposed to metformin before conception.
Genital malformations, seen only in male children, were the only birth defects in the study found to be associated with a statistically significant increase in risk following paternal metformin use.
Men who took metformin before or after three months of puberty did not have an increased risk of having a baby with birth defects. Likewise, the children’s unaffected siblings were unaffected.
Since previous studies have shown that diabetes can reduce sperm quality and fertility in men, the researchers also compared the percentage of birth defects in children of men who took insulin with those who took metformin, to make sure that the mere diagnosis of diabetes was not a contributing factor. . They found that the use of insulin was not associated with a change in the frequency of birth defects.
The researchers found no significant association between birth defects and the father’s exposure to diabetes medications other than metformin.
In an editorial published alongside the study, Germain Buck Louis, a reproductive and perinatal epidemiologist at George Mason University who was not involved in the study, said there was evidence from prior revisions to suggest that “altered testosterone levels may be a mechanism underlying concerns about the anti-androgenic effects of oral pharmacological agents for diabetes, including metformin ”to explain these findings.
More research is needed.
Louis also noted that because of the limitations of this study, more research is needed to find out whether men taking metformin should give any consideration, especially given the high prevalence of diabetes that may require metformin use.
There are currently no warnings from the US Food and Drug Administration against the use of metformin by men planning to have children.
However, the authors note that they did not have data on other aspects of diabetes, such as glycemic control or adherence, because they only looked at prescription fulfillment. In addition, children who were paternally exposed to metformin also had older and lower socioeconomic parents, which may play a role. Still, she recommends, physicians have to help couples preparing to have babies and weigh the dangers and advantages of fathers taking metformin as opposed to other medications.
How to avoid metformin.
The goal of this article is not to criticize Metformin, but to warn men of possible consequences if this great medicine is used during the fertility age if they are planning to make a baby.
While Metformin is the most popular medicine for type 2 diabetes, in some cases avoiding it at least for a short time is important.
In some cases, holistic and naturopathic medicine can be successfully used to compensate for insulin intolerance.
At the Philadelphia Holistic Clinic, we have many alternative approaches to propose.
Contact our clinic to schedule an appointment with Dr. Tsan and discuss which holistic treatment is best for you.