Taking ibuprofen in pregnancy could double the risk of miscarriage, researchers say.
In a study of 4,700 women who had had miscarried, one in 13 had taken non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), the commonest being ibuprofen, compared with one in 38 who had had normal pregnancies.
The finding – by researchers from Canada and France and published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal – suggests paracetamol may be a safer painkiller when pregnant. Earlier studies suggested use of ibuprofen and similar drugs in early pregnancy may increase the risk of birth abnormalities.
"[These drugs] should be used with caution during pregnancy," the authors said.
In the latest study, the highest risk of miscarriage occurred with diclofenac, a powerful painkiller.
Janet Fyle, professional policy adviser at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said: "We need to advise women to avoid buying over-the-counter pain relief. If a pregnant woman does need to take any analgesia, then paracetamol would be appropriate."
Dr Virginia Beckett, of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said: "It is safe to take paracetamol during pregnancy. However, if a woman takes a NSAID the risk of miscarriage is still very low."