Pregnant women have been told not to take ibuprofen after new research claimed it can more than double the risk of miscarriage.
The Canadian Medical Association Journal said that the popular painkiller can increase the risk of miscarriage by 2.4 times if taken in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.
The report stated: “Women who were exposed to any type and dosage of non-aspirin NSAID during early pregnancy were more likely to have a spontaneous abortion.”
Clinicians discovered that 7.5% (352) of 4,705 miscarriage cases were linked to a dose of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and 2.6% of 47,050 women who did not lose their babies had taken the same drugs.
However, it has also been claimed that women may take painkillers after suffering early signs of miscarriage where no connection has been found to the drug.
Dr Virginia Beckett, spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, added: “This study adds to the research base surrounding miscarriage however, it does not look at other factors which may increase a woman’s chance of having a miscarriage such as smoking and weight gain.”
Previous research has suggested that NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen containing naproxen and diclofenac, may increase the risk of miscarriage because they reduce the production of vital chemicals called prostaglandins, which are necessary to implant fertilised eggs in the womb.
The findings support NHS advice that pregnant women should use paracetamol as a form of pain relief, particularly in the first and final trimesters of their pregnancies.
Janet Fyle, Professional Policy Adviser at the Royal College of Midwives, said: “We need to advise women, as midwives often do, to avoid buying over the counter medication for pain relief.”
Approximately one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage, with the highest risk in the first few weeks when many women may be unaware that they are expecting.