MANSFIELD, Connecticut – Pregnant women, especially for those on their 20 weeks of pregnancy, should take note of their drug intake, particularly for nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

NSAIDs include ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin, to name a few. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning for both pregnant women and health care professionals on October 15, 2020, for the sake of women’s health and wellness.

A survey from 2019 revealed that consumers had spent US$4.3 billion on more than 760 million bottles of NSAIDs. Pregnant women are prone to taking these drugs to alleviate their aches from childbearing.

Kidney dysfunction has long been associated with the long-term use of NSAIDs. However, the FDA now believes that the use of NSAIDs also affects the fetus and the mother’s protective amniotic sac fluid around it.  This fluid is put around the fetus with the help of the mother up to the 20th week of pregnancy. After the 20th week, the fetus’ kidneys would create most of the protective fluid.

Many physicists observed a significant correlation with the use of the NSAIDs and the lower production of the amniotic sac fluid. Some women have a sudden thinning of their amniotic fluid upon taking NSAIDs, then went back to normal as they stopped taking them. For other pregnant women, it took several weeks before low levels of amniotic fluid are detected.

FDA’s Warning for Pregnant Women to Address Some Issues for Women’s Health

There are cases where newborns die shortly after birth due to kidney failure. Few cases of these have been recorded, but it can give a considerable impact to every pregnant woman who wants to deliver safe childbirth for both herself and her baby.

Many may not be aware of the harmful effects of NSAIDs on women’s health particularly for pregnant women, so it is important to be aware and monitor the intake of these drugs together with the amniotic sac, with her obstetrician.

The best option to do for pregnant women is to consult with her obstetrician first before purchasing over-the-counter pain relievers. Some obstetricians might recommend acetaminophen (Tylenol) as alternatives but note that these kinds of drugs are also linked to autism of the child, with prolonged use during childbearing weeks.

Pharmacists could aid you in identifying which drugs contain acetaminophen (Tylenol) and NSAIDs, as these types of drugs can also exist in cold and flu or sleeping aid medications. Taking dietary supplements can also be risky as FDA doesn’t ensure their manufacturing quality. They may not induce issues at all, but the lack of data brings unknown risks, so it is better to take safer tested options.

Non-drug alternative therapies can be considered by pregnant women like hot compress, stretching and light exercises, massage and visualization therapies, and other techniques. These methods may not fully eliminate pain and aches, but they can reduce the discomfort felt in childbearing and can also help in reducing the dose of over-the-counter drugs if they are to be needed as prescribed.

Pregnant women would naturally want the safety for her health, and her baby’s likewise. These precautions from the FDA are developed through numerous surveys and test results that aim to increase the knowledge for women’s health. Pregnant women can consider different methods and suggestions as stated above and see what works for them.