A recently published study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has concluded that women who take NSAIDs in the first trimester of pregnancy are more than twice as likely to have a miscarriage than women who do not.
NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are a very popular class of pain killers that many people use every day. They are also used to reduce fever. The new study investigated use of non-aspirin NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, naproxen and other drugs.
It is estimated that about 17% of women use non-aspirin NSAIDs during pregnancy despite the already existing knowledge they can cause malformations.
The problem with this is NSAIDs are seen by many patients as basically harmless medications because their use is so incredibly common. NSAIDs are also available over-the-counter and do not require a prescription to buy. There is nothing stopping a pregnant woman from going to her local CVS and buying a bottle of Motrin to alleviate that pesky headache or continuing to medicate her chronic back pain.
The Canadian study compared the medical records of 4,705 women who had a miscarriage during the first 20 weeks of gestation with records of 47,050 women who became pregnant and delivered a child. The women in the study were aged 15 to 45 when they became pregnant.
Among women who had miscarriages, 352 had taken NSAIDs, compared with 1,213 of the women who did not experience pregnancy loss.
When calculating the risk associated with NSAID use, the researchers accounted for other factors that might increase the likelihood of miscarriage, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, depression and anxiety.
Taking into account all of that information, the risk for miscarriage was 35% for women taking NSAIDs as compared to the usual rate of 15%. That jump is quite significant. Imagine if the average miscarriage rate was actually 35% and not 15%. That would mean more than one out of every three women who became pregnant would have miscarriages. That would truly be a worrisome number.
To me, this signifies that we need to stress to pregnant women that they should seek more conservative ways to manage their pain. Head aches, neck pain, back pain, cramping and many other forms of pain are things that chiropractors deal with on a daily basis with success. There is very little side effect, if any, to manipulation. And there certainly isn’t an increased risk of miscarriage!
In traditional medical care NSAIDs are thought of as conservative care. I doubt there are many responsible medical physicians who would recommend a pregnant woman take an NSAID because of the risk already associated with them, but the problem is they don’t have to. These drugs are so readily available and people have been taught this is an acceptable form of conservative care. They are not. Additionally, they provide only temporary relief. Chiropractic care actually addresses the issues at hand and is corrective. This is something an NSAID can never claim to be.
Most people, pregnant or not, deal with some form of pain from time to time. Still others deal with it frequently. Unfortunately, most of those people reach for the bottle of pills to relieve the pain but not actually correct the problem that’s causing it. Next time that happens, consider trying chiropractic as an option. Not only will it relieve your pain, it will fix the problem too!