Small-To-Moderate Risk Of Birth Defects Seen With NSAIDs

A small-to-moderate risk of birth defects has been seen in the prenatal use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), according to a new study.
NSAIDs are used by millions for headaches, minor pain, arthritis, lowering fever, and for reducing swelling and include nonprescription aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve); prescription medications include COX-2 inhibitors such as Celebrex (celecoxib).

Some moderate associations between NSAIDs and specific birth defects were seen, said the researchers, which were led by Rohini Hernandez, PhD, from the Center for Birth Defects Research and Prevention at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in Boston, said MedScape. Some of the NSAIDs involved included ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen.

These NSAIDs were linked, to some degree, to increased risks for oral clefts, neural tube defects, anophthalmia, microphthalmia, pulmonary valve stenosis, amniotic band syndrome, limb body wall defects, and transverse limb deficiencies, said MedScape. The study results were published in the March issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Data from National Birth Defects Prevention Study—a multi-site, population-based, case-control study of risk factors for birth defects—was utilized. Of the participants, 3,173 women received NSAIDs and 1,452 reported taking them, as needed, representing about 23% of women taking NSAIDs in their first trimester of pregnancy, said MedScape.

An elevated risk was seen in 9 of the 29 birth defect groups examined and was linked to NSAID use. The findings call for additional studies with detailed data on timing, frequency, dose, and indications, said MedScape. Gideon Koren, MD, director of the Motherisk Program at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, told MedScape that the research was a large case-control study analyzed by “an outstanding” group.

Cheryl Broussard, PhD, from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, declined to comment on these new findings but told MedScape Medical News: “Women should be advised to limit their use to medications that are essential. When prescribing and considering potential adverse effects of any medication, remember to include reproductive effects—the potential teratogenic effects of medications and the dose needed for effective treatment are especially important to consider for women who are pregnant or who are planning to become pregnant.”

We recently wrote about another study that revealed that NSAID use may increase prostate cancer risks and also previously wrote that NSAIDs have long been linked to increased risks of adverse events and were most recently linked to, according to a Harvard research report, increased risks for developing kidney cancer. COX-2 inhibitors including Celebrex, have been linked to increased risks for heart failure, death, and even erectile dysfunction (ED).

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