The FDA and number of other national health organizations around the world have started saying that certain anti-inflammatory drugs are not safe for pregnant women to use. To be clear, this does not mean that all medications in the category are not appropriate, and this recommendation is only for a certain window of time during the pregnancy. Therefore, it’s important to understand precisely what the recommendation states and to speak with your doctor if you have any questions.

What To Know About if Anti-Inflammatory Drugs are Safe for Pregnant Women

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Health Canada, and other government health bodies worldwide have started requiring labeling changes for nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).  The medications work in the body by blocking a chemical’s production in the body which is associated with causing inflammation.

This new label is regarding whether anti-inflammatory drugs are safe for pregnant women. What they state is that women should not take these medications at 20 weeks or after into their pregnancies.

The concern is that anti-inflammatory use by pregnant women may not be safe for the baby’s kidneys.  In rare instances, dangerous fetal kidney problems can occur.

This label change applies to both prescription and over the counter NSAIDs such as naproxen and ibuprofen, commonly sold under brand names such as Aleve or Advil.  Other medications affected by this requirement include celecoxib, diclofenac, and aspirin in doses over 81 milligrams.

What is the Risk?

According to a news release from Health Canada, other complications beyond the risk to the unborn baby’s kidneys may also occur as a result of using anti-inflammatory drugs by pregnant women.  They were further deemed as potentially unsafe as they could cause an amniotic fluid reduction and other potential complications such as loss of joint movement (limb contractures) and impaired lung maturation.

Though these risks are rare, they were deemed high enough to state that after 20 weeks, the specified anti-inflammatory drugs are not safe for pregnant women to use.

In many countries, recommendations had already stated that pregnant women should not take anti-inflammatory medications as they are not safe from 28 weeks until birth, that is, from the third trimester onward.  However, the recommendations have now been broadened by 8 weeks so that women from 20 weeks of pregnancy to birth should not take the identified NSAIDs. It’s always recommended that women discuss with their doctors any medications (prescription or over the counter) or supplements they are considering taking while pregnant or breastfeeding a baby.