Cookie policy: This site uses cookies (small files stored on your computer) to simplify and improve your experience of this website. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. For more information please take a look at our terms and conditions. Some parts of the site may not work properly if you choose not to accept cookies.


Subscribe or Register

Existing user? Login

Non-aspirin NSAIDs linked with miscarriage

By News team

Pregnant women have been advised by researchers to be cautious about using non-aspirin non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, after research linked the drugs with a risk of miscarriage.

Published yesterday (6 September 2011) in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, the study suggests the use of non-aspirin NSAIDs during pregnancy more than doubles the risk of miscarriage compared with no use of the drugs (see Panel).

The study’s authors, from the University of Montreal, said: "We consistently saw that the risk of having a spontaneous abortion was associated with gestational use of diclofenac, naproxen, celecoxib, ibuprofen and rofecoxib alone or in combination, suggesting a class effect."

Prostaglandins are thought to play a role but the mechanism of action remains unclear, they say, calling for further research.

Jane Bass, consultant pharmacist in women’s health and pregnancy at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s spokeswoman for women’s health, said: "This study reinforces the message that women should be advised to avoid NSAIDs in pregnancy and that paracetamol is the safest analgesic to take at any stage of pregnancy."

She added: "The availability of general sale list and pharmacy packs means that the message to the general public as to which drugs are NSAIDs needs to be reinforced."

Limitations of the study included lack of data about over-the-counter non-aspirin NSAID use and information about the reasons women were taking the drugs.

Study method and results

The nested, case-controlled study compared the non-aspirin NSAID use of each of 4,705 women who had miscarried within 20 weeks’ gestation with that of ten randomly-assigned, pregnant control cases (n=47,050).

Controls were pregnant women who did not have a miscarriage at the same gestational age of their matched case, but who were at risk of having one and so had similar probabilities of being exposed to medication.

Exposure was defined as having filled at least one prescription for any type of non-aspirin NSAID during, or immediately before, pregnancy.

Use of the drugs during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of miscarriage compared with no use (odds ratio 2.43, 95% confidence interval 2.12–2.79).

The highest risk was seen among women who used diclofenac (OR 3.09, CI 1.96–4.87) and the lowest with rofecoxib use (OR 1.83, CI 1.24–2.70). No dose-response relationship could be established.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 11083639

Have your say

For commenting, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will have the ability to comment.

Recommended from Pharmaceutical Press

RPS publications

Pharmaceutical Press is the publishing division of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, and is a leading provider of authoritative pharmaceutical information used throughout the world.


Search an extensive range of the world’s most trusted resources

Powered by MedicinesComplete
  • Print
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Save
  • Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Supplementary images

  • Pregnant woman holding tablets (Newphotoservice |

Newsletter Sign-up

Want to keep up with the latest news, comment and CPD articles in pharmacy and science? Subscribe to our free alerts.