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Harmful Effects of Analgesics During Pregnancy – New Study Outcomes

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has released new conclusions regarding the impact of common over-the-counter analgesics (pain relievers) on neonatal outcomes.

The study is one of the largest and most comprehensive studies of its type, conducted over a 30-year period (1985 to 2015) and involving over 150,000 singleton pregnancies.  Five common over-the counters analgesics were involved:  aspirin, diclofenac, ibuprofen, and paracetamol.

The study revealed that use of over-the-counter medications by pregnant woman has increased significantly – from 29.1%  (three in ten women) to over 60% over the course of the study.

The study included many key findings, primarily that the consumption of over-the-counter analgesics during pregnancy is associated with substantially higher risk of adverse perinatal health outcomes.

Expectant mothers who took at least one of the five analgesics had increased risks including:

  • Lower birth weight (28% higher risk)
  • Hypospadias (27% higher risk)
  • Cryptorchidism
  • Amniotic band defects
  • Neural tube defects (64% higher risk)
  • Neonatal death (50% higher risk). 

This study brings to light the perceived safety of over-the-counter medications in an era of misinformation.  Expecting mothers should be sure to discuss all medications with their primary medical provider. 

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*Source: Maternal over-the-counter analgesics use during pregnancy and adverse perinatal outcomes: cohort study of 151141 singleton pregnancies