Mother-to-be who take over-the-counter painkiller during pregnancy have to some extent at higher risk of delivering babies with rare birth defects, found a novel study. For example if mother-to-be had taken aspirin, babies were three times more prone to born with no eyes or with abnormally small eyeballs, which frequently cause blindness.
The babies in womb are also at risk of amniotic band syndrome, a condition that causes a range of deformities such as clubfoot. This syndrome was also three times greater among women who had often used painkillers during their pregnancy. However, it is not clear that painkiller caused the defects and if they did the risk is small.
The new study that investigates birth defect by researchers from Boston University is based on the statistics from the National Birth Defects Prevention study. In that study women from all over USA were interviewed about the medications they took during first trimester of their pregnancy. They were asked if they took common painkillers, also called NSAIDs (no steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), including ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen.
Then researchers compared the use of painkiller among fifteen thousand women whose infants had birth defects with fifty-five hundred women whose infants were born without any deformities. They investigated for thirty deformities and they found that a huge majority of defects were not attached to NSAIDs. The study findings were, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
According to study co-author Martha Werler, who studies birth defects, a small amount of diverse birth defects were slightly increased in infants whose mothers had taken ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen. For example, the risk of cleft palate increased by thirty to eighty percent. The risk of spina bifida rose sixty percent in infants whose mothers had used aspirin or ibuprofen.
Werler added while the study findings do not prove that painkillers are to blame, but, they are a warning sign and deserve further research. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention thinks these eye defects known as anophthalmia and microphthalmia, occur in one out of fifty-three hundred births. About one in ten thousand infants are born with amniotic band syndrome.
Dr. Eva Pressman, who studies maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center but was not involved in the new work stated that these are pretty rare birth defects, so the effect is small.