If you're pregnant and feel you're running low on things to worry about, we have some news you'll want to hear. A new study presents troubling information about a possible link between anti-inflammatory drugs and miscarriage, complete with conflicting expert advice on how alarmed you should be.
MSNBC reports that a study published in the Candadian Medical Association Journal found that women who took non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy more than doubled their chance of miscarriage. The study of nearly 50,000 pregnant women's health records examined whether or not they had prescriptions for NSAIDs during their first trimester. While NSAIDs, which include ibuprofen and naproxen, are widely available over the counter in the U.S., most are prescription only in Canada.
After controlling for other factors that might increase a woman's chances of miscarrying, like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, depression and anxiety, the researchers found that women were 2.4 times more likely to miscarry if they took NSAIDs early in pregnancy. They believe NSAIDs may be dangerous during pregnancy because the drugs can cause fluctuations in the levels of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins. Usually, prostaglandins in the uterus decrease consistently during pregnancy.
Study co-author Anick Berard, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Montreal says:
"I would strongly suggest that women take no non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs during the first trimester ... If a woman is taking an NSAID for a chronic condition she really has to talk to her health care provider to see if it's feasible to stop at least during the first trimester."
Yet Dr. Hyagriv Simhan, associate professor and chief of the division of maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, points out that the study didn't actually prove NSAIDs are causing miscarriages. He says there are legitimate reasons for taking the drugs, and the finding isn't strong enough to make him recommend all pregnant patients stop taking them. "I wouldn't want this to be a reason for women who have taken a Motrin before they realized they were pregnant to freak out," he says. That may be sound advice, but considering how seriously some pregnant women take warnings about everything from fish to household cleansers, the study is still likely to cause a fair amount of freak outs.
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