Risk of Miscarriage With Use of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs During Pregnancy

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are medications that treat inflammation, pain, and fever. There are several different types of NSAIDs. Some are available over-the-counter (aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, and ketoprofen) and others can only be obtained by prescription. A new study published in the August 16, 2003 British Medical Journal finds that prenatal use of NSAIDs and aspirin increased the risk of miscarriage.

The study, based on a sample size of 1,055 pregnant women, points to a five times more likely risk of a miscarriage in women who took NSAIDs at the beginning of their pregnancies compared to women who took them later in their pregnancies. According to the study, there is an 80 per cent increase in the chance of a miscarriage in women who took these NSAIDs at any point in their pregnancy. The researchers also found that the risk increased when the drugs were used for longer than one week but these risks were not affected by other factors such as drinking alcohol or coffee.

Researcher De-Kun Li from the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute in Oakland, California where the study was conducted says that there was a "striking contrast" between the effects of acetaminophen and that of NSAIDs in the results of this study.

This new study follows up on a study at the University of Aarhus in Denmark in 2001 in which researchers examined patients' medical records and the national birth registry. The team found an association between miscarriages after 28 weeks and NSAID usage in the weeks immediately before the miscarriage.

Pharmacologist Andy Gray of Natal University's Nelson Mandela School of Medicine in South Africa suggests, "Women should avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs during pregnancy and not take anything without consulting their doctor."