The FDA approved ibuprofen, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID, in 1974. Drugs in the NSAID group are used to manage mild to moderate pain, inflammation and fevers. Pregnant women, however, should avoid taking ibuprofen and other over-the-counter medications without a doctor’s prescription because of the possibility that these medications may adversely affect the fetus or mother during pregnancy.
Fetal Side Effects
The FDA has assigned ibuprofen a pregnancy rating of "C" -- which means that risks cannot be ruled out -- for use before 30 weeks and "D" -- which means that positive evidence of risk exist -- for use after 30 weeks of pregnancy. NSAIDs block production of prostaglandin and thromboxane, both necessary for opening the blood vessel, called the ductus arterious, that transports blood past fetal lungs. If this blood vessel closes early, it can result in high blood pressure in the arteries connected to the fetus' lungs. Because NSAIDs such as ibuprofen can cross the placenta and may linger in the fetus, a 2001 article in the journal "Pediatrics" warns women not to use NSAIDs during the last 3 months of pregnancy.
Women's Side Effects
Ibuprofen may interfere with blood clotting and increase the possibility of mother and baby experiencing uncontrolled bleeding, according to the American Council for Drug Education. In the third trimester, ibuprofen may thwart labor-stimulating hormones, resulting in delayed or extended labor, posing a danger for both mother and baby.
Newborn Side Effects
Newborns whose mothers took NSAIDs during their first trimester are at greater risk of being born with congenital heart defects. According to a study that looked at 36,387 pregnant women in Québec province, babies of women who had NSAID prescriptions filled early in pregnancy were twice as likely to be at risk for congenital defects, according to lead researcher, Anick Berard, Ph.D., of Montreal's Sainte Justine Hospital.
According to Pregnancy.org, women taking ibuprofen during pregnancy or just before becoming pregnant may be more likely to have problems, including a higher risk for miscarriage.
Labor and Delivery
Taking ibuprofen in the third trimester may cause a reduction in the quantity of amniotic fluid, and may prolong labor and delivery, according to Drugs.com.
- "Pediatrics": Analysis of Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatory Drugs in Meconium and Its Relation to Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of the Newborn
- ScienceDaily: First Trimester Use Of NSAIDs Is Associated With Cardiac Abnormalities In Babies
- Pregnancy.org: Common Over-the-counter Medicines and Miscarriage