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Health & Pregnancy

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Popular Painkillers May Increase Risk of Miscarriage


Nielsen and his team compared more than 17,000 women who were not prescribed any medication during pregnancy to nearly 1,500 women who had filled prescriptions for NSAIDs from the period 30 days before conception to the birth of their child. The researchers also compared about 4,300 women who had miscarriages, of whom 63 had taken NSAIDs during pregnancy, to nearly 30,000 women whose babies were born alive.

Among women who filled prescriptions for NSAIDS, the researchers found no increased risk of having an undergrown baby at full term, a premature baby, or a baby with birth defects. However, miscarriages were more common among women who had filled a prescription for an NSAID in the weeks before the loss.

For women with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, who depend on NSAIDs to live a normal life, Toledo says, "they may have no choice but to take [an NSAID]. If she were my patient, I might [recommend trying to] tough it out with some other drug during the first trimester, when miscarriage is most likely to occur. ... It may be, though, that the benefits of NSAIDs outweigh the potential risks."

Still, Toledo believes in erring on the side of caution. He tells WebMD, "We need to be cautioning our patients ... about any medicines taken while a woman is attempting pregnancy or as soon as she finds out she is pregnant. "... This [study] is going to raise my level of concern so that I'm going to tell my patients who are trying to get pregnant not to take [an NSAID during pregnancy or] ... during that two weeks between ovulation and the first missed period."

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