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PARIS, Aug 14 (AFP) - Use of certain over-the-counter painkillers and even aspirin during pregnancy may greatly boost the risk of miscarriage, according to a study reported in next Saturday's British Medical Journal (BMJ).
Research conducted among more than 1,000 women in California found that those who took ibuprofen, aspirin and other medications known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) increased their risk of miscarriage by 80 percent.
The apparent risk was higher if the medications were taken around the time of conception or lasted more than a week. In the specific case of aspirin, they ran a 60-percent higher risk.
On the other hand, those who took paracetamol had no problems.
The research was carried out by a team led by De-Kun Li of the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute in Oakland, California.
They interviewed 1,055 women in their first month of pregnancy, asking them about their medical history and use of painkillers.
Volunteers who had taken medication for cramping, which is often an impending sign of miscarriage, were excluded.
NSAIDS and paracetamol both work by suppressing production of prostaglandins, which are fatty acids needed to ensure that an embryo is properly anchored in the womb.
But NSAIDS acts on the whole body, whereas paracetamol acts only on the central nervous system. This may explain why paracetamol carries no miscarriage risk, the authors speculate.
They stress that the findings need further confirmation but, as a matter of precaution, suggest that women who are planning to be pregnant avoid NSAIDs around conception.
NSAIDS have already been studied for their effects on the digestive system and kidneys, but there has been only scant research into whether they carry any reproductive risk.
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