NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Women who use over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) early in pregnancy may not have an increased risk of miscarriage, a new study suggests.
Some studies have hinted at an increased miscarriage risk among women who use NSAIDs around the time they conceive or in early pregnancy. But other studies have failed to find a connection.
Much of the evidence suggesting a risk has been based on prescription NSAIDs, said Dr. Digna Velez Edwards from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, who led the new study, which appears this month in Obstetrics & Gynecology.
So Dr. Edwards and her colleagues looked at over-the-counter NSAID use among nearly 3,000 pregnant women who were part of a larger study.
Overall, 43% said they’d used the painkillers at some point around the time they conceived or in their first six weeks of pregnancy.
Thirteen percent of all women suffered a miscarriage during the study. But the risk was no greater for women who’d used NSAIDs, regardless of the number of days they took the drugs, Dr. Edwards’s team found.
“Our study would suggest that over-the-counter doses of NSAIDs are not associated with miscarriage,” Dr. Edwards told Reuters Health.
On the other hand, she said, “we can never know whether NSAIDs or any other medication are completely safe for pregnant women.”
That’s because ethically, researchers can’t do clinical trials where they randomly assign pregnant women to take a medication or not.
The new study was partly funded by the National Institutes of Health. None of the researchers reports any conflicts of interest.
Obstet Gynecol 2012.