Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Pregnancy

Font Size

Painkillers May Raise Miscarriage Risk

Women May Want To Avoid Anti-Inflammatory Drugs While Trying to Get Pregnant
WebMD Health News

Aug. 14, 2003 -- Taking aspirin or other anti-inflammatory painkillers around the time of conception or early in pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage by as much as 80%, according to a new study.

Although these findings need to be confirmed by further studies, researchers say that in the meantime, it may be wise for women who are trying to get pregnant to be aware of this potential risk and avoid using anti-inflammatory painkillers around conception.

Doctors already recommend that women avoid anti-inflammatory drugs during pregnancy but this study shows that taking them while trying to get pregnant may also be ill advised.

Anti-inflammatory painkillers include prescription and over-the-counter medications that contain the active ingredient ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, and others), naproxen (Aleve), and ketoprofen (Orudis KT).

Acetaminophen is a different type of painkiller -- not anti-inflammatory -- and was not found to carry this same miscarriage risk.

The study appears in the Aug. 16 issue of the British Medical Journal.

Painkillers and Miscarriage Risk

Researchers interviewed 1,055 women who had recently become pregnant about their use of painkillers, including aspirin, other anti-inflammatory drugs, and acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol). About 5% of the women reported using anti-inflammatory painkillers around conception or early in pregnancy.

After adjusting for other risk factors for miscarriage, the researchers found that anti-inflammatory drug use increased the women's risk of miscarriage by 80%. The miscarriage risk was strongest when the painkillers were taken around the time of conception or if anti-inflammatory drug use lasted more than a week.

The miscarriage risk for aspirin use around conception or early in pregnancy was similar, but researchers say it's harder to draw conclusions because there were only a small number of aspirin users in the study.

Use of acetaminophen, which works in a different way in the body, had no affect on miscarriage risk.

Anti-Inflammatory Drugs May Interfere With Implantation

Anti-inflammatory drugs suppress inflammation in the body by blocking the production of substances called prostaglandins, and researchers suspect this function may also increase miscarriage risk.

Researcher De-Kun Li, of the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute in Oakland, Calif., and colleagues say animal studies have shown that prostaglandins are necessary for successful implantation of an embryo into the wall of the uterus. Prostaglandins are also thought to play an important role in ovulation.

The researchers say the new class of anti-inflammatory drugs known as Cox-2 inhibitors -- Bextra, Celebrex, and Vioxx -- are not recommended for use by pregnant women because of embryo implantation problems found in animal studies. But these effects have not yet been well studied in older anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen.

Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

hand circling date on calendar
Track your most fertile days.
woman looking at ultrasound
Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
The signs to watch out for.
pregnant woman in hospital
Are there ways to do it naturally?
slideshow fetal development
pregnancy first trimester warning signs
What Causes Bipolar
Woman trying on dress in store
pregnant woman
Woman looking at pregnancy test
calendar and baby buggy
dark chocolate squares