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Taking ibuprofen or paracetamol during pregnancy increases the risk of premature death and stillbirth by 50%: study

Painkiller warning for moms-to-be: Taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen during pregnancy increases risk of giving birth prematurely or stillbirth by 50%, study says

  • Preterm birth is 50% higher among pregnant women taking painkillers
  • And the chance of stillbirth is 33% higher, according to a study of 150,000 pregnancies.
  • The researchers called for the medical advice to be reassessed in light of their findings.

Pregnant women who take painkillers regularly are 50 percent more likely to have complications compared to those who don’t, according to a study.

Researchers from the University of Aberdeen found that there were higher rates of premature births, stillbirths and neonatal deaths among those taking over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen.

The study, which looked at more than 151,000 pregnancies over three decades, showed preterm birth was 50 percent more likely, while the risk of stillbirth was 33 percent higher.

As many as eight out of 10 pregnant women take pain relievers to ease pregnancy symptoms, but there is conflicting advice about which medications to take.

The NHS says paracetamol is the “first choice” painkiller for pregnant women, but warns against taking high-dose aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen.

The researchers called for the medical advice to be reassessed in light of their findings.

Researchers from the University of Aberdeen found that there were higher rates of premature births, stillbirths and neonatal deaths among those who took over-the-counter painkillers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen

Researchers from the University of Aberdeen found that there were higher rates of premature births, stillbirths and neonatal deaths among those who took over-the-counter painkillers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen

As many as eight out of 10 pregnant women take pain relievers to ease pregnancy symptoms, but there is conflicting advice about which medications to take.  The NHS says that paracetamol (pictured) is the painkiller of

As many as eight out of 10 pregnant women take pain relievers to ease pregnancy symptoms, but there is conflicting advice about which medications to take.  The NHS says that paracetamol is the painkiller of

As many as eight out of 10 pregnant women take pain relievers to ease pregnancy symptoms, but there is conflicting advice about which medications to take. The NHS says paracetamol (left) is the ‘first choice’ painkiller for pregnant women, but warns against taking high doses of aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (right)

For the study, which the researchers say is one of the largest of its kind, more than 151,141 pregnancies that took place in Aberdeen between 1985 and 2015 were examined.

The team studied the medical notes of those who had taken five common painkillers: acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin, diclofenac and naproxen.

The number of women who took painkillers during pregnancy doubled between 2008 and 2015.

The findings, published in the scientific journal BMJ Openshow that the risk of low birth weight was 28 percent higher among those taking painkillers.

And hypospadias, a birth defect that affects the penis, was 27 percent more likely.

Aikaterini Zafeiri, a doctoral researcher at the university and lead author of the study, said mothers-to-be should always seek medical advice before taking over-the-counter medications.

She said: “In light of the study’s findings, the ease of access to over-the-counter painkillers, combined with the availability of wrong and correct information via the Internet, raises safety concerns.

“This is especially when uninformed or partially informed self-medication decisions are made during pregnancy without medical advice.

“It must be emphasized that acetaminophen in combination with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as diclofenac, naproxen, and ibuprofen) is associated with an increased risk and pregnant women should always consult their doctor or midwife before taking any over-the-counter medication.

“We would recommend a strong reinforcement of the official advice for pregnant women.”

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