Study Finds Use of Common Painkillers in First Trimester May Cause Birth Defects

A study published in the journal, Birth Defects Research Part B found that the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) during the first trimester of pregnancy can cause congenital <"">birth defects. NSAIDs are commonly used pain medications that include aspirin, ibuprofen, cox II inhibitors and naproxen sodium. Popular brands of NSAIDs are Bayer, Advil, Motrin, Aleve and <"">Celebrex. While the study found these medications can lead to several congenital defects, heart defects were the most common.

The researchers looked at over 36,000 pregnant women, and determined which women had taken NSAIDs during their first trimester and which had babies diagnosed with a congenital abnormality in the first year of life. They found that women who had taken these medications were more likely to have had a baby with a congenital abnormality. Cardiac septal defects were particularly common. This kind of defect refers to a hole in the septum between the left and right valves of the heart. The research also showed that the proportion of infants with multiple congenital abnormalities was also higher among the mothers who had taken NSAIDs during the first trimester, compared to mothers who had not.

The results are alarming because many pregnant take these medications, either over the counter, or with a prescription during their first trimester or pregnancy. While previous studies showed that taking NSAIDs toward the end of a pregnancy can cause certain circulatory problems, including premature closure of the ductus arteriosus and patent ductus arteriosus, the medical community thought the use of these medications early in pregnancy was relatively safe.

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