Research: NSAIDs may be harmful to unborn babies

    8:37 PM, Sep 6, 2011   |    comments
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    UNDATED (CNN) -- Most pregnant women know to avoid alcohol, cigarettes and illicit drugs. But new research suggests a common type of over-the-counter medication could also put unborn babies in danger. A study out of Canada finds taking anti-inflammatory painkillers could put a woman at increased risk for miscarriage.

    For pregnant women, a simple thing like taking a pain killer for a headache can be an agonizing decision. What is safe?

    Christa Hassell has chosen to suffer through the pain rather than risk taking a pill. She says, "I just pretty much avoided everything. I didn't let it stress me out too much, but I can see how it would make some people feel very anxious about what they could and couldn't take."

    And now, a Montreal researcher has just published a study that suggests non steroid anti inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen or naproxen- can increase the risk of miscarriage.

    In Quebec, all pregnancies are included in a registry. The study matched those records with records from a prescription drug plan and then compared the drug use of women who had miscarriages with the drug use of women who didn't.

    Normally women with confirmed pregnancies have 15 percent risk of miscarriage. But the risk doubled to more than 30 percent in women who took the anti inflammatory drugs, also known as NSAIDS.

    Anick Berard with the University of Montreal says, "If a woman uses NSAIDs, to relieve pain, headache, so on an acute base, I would say please avoid them at least during the first trimester."

    The drugs studied include: ibuprofen, also known as Advil or Motrin, Naproxen, or Aleve and Celecoxib-Celebrex.

    The study only looked at pain killers that were prescribed to the women -it did not account for drugs bought over the counter - a major flaw according to Dr. Gideon Koren, who counsels woman and doctors about the effect of drugs on pregnancy.

    Considering all of the studies to date, he does not think this study should prompt any change in what doctors already recommend to their patients.

    Dr. Gideon Koren with The Hospital for Sick Children says, "The problem is that type of studies do not prove anything but they scare the hell out of women and health professionals."

    For routine pain management, the experts agree that Tylenol is the safest choice. And all advise that before taking any drugs, pregnant women should talk to their doctors.

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