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Some Common Painkillers Linked to Miscarriage Risk

Study Suggests Miscarriage Risk From Using NSAIDs Like Ibuprofen or Naproxen During Pregnancy

Miscarriages and NSAIDs continued...

The risk varied slightly by medication.

Women with prescriptions for diclofenac, for example, had about three times the risk of miscarriage compared to those who didn't take that medication. Those taking naproxen had a 2.64 times higher risk.

Celebrex and ibuprofen were each associated with a slightly more than doubled risk. Those taking Vioxx, which is no longer sold in the U.S., had an 83% greater risk.

Those risks remained when researchers adjusted their results to remove the influence of other things known to increase miscarriage risk, including a history of miscarriage and underlying health conditions like diabetes, depression, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and untreated thyroid disease.

The dose of the medication didn't seem to be tied to the degree of risk.

"This leads me to believe that women using NSAIDs over the counter, which are known to be lower dosage, are at the same risk as those who are going and getting a prescription," Bérard says.

Study Limitations

One limitation of the study was that it relied on NSAID prescriptions as a marker for their use.

In Canada, one popular NSAID, ibuprofen, is also available over the counter.

As a result, many women in the study who were counted as not taking NSAIDs because they didn't have a prescription might actually have been using them.

Also, getting a prescription doesn't mean that a person actually takes the drug, says Gideon Koren, MD. Koren is a pediatrician, toxicologist, and pharmacologist who directs the Motherisk Program at the Hospital for Sick Children, in Toronto. He was not involved in the study.

Researchers in Sweden, who were looking at the safety of using migraine medications during pregnancy, recently tested the reliability of prescription records by going one step further and interviewing women about their medication use.

They found that many women didn't actually take the drugs their doctors ordered for them.  And Koren says that besides their prescription history, there were also important differences between the women who had miscarriages and the women who did not that likely muddied the study's results.

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