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Risk of adverse birth outcome and miscarriage in pregnant users of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: population based observational study and case-control study

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 03 February 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:266


Objective: To estimate the risk of adverse birth outcome in women who take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs during pregnancy.

Design and setting: Population based cohort study and a case-control study, both based on data from a prescription registry, the Danish birth registry, and one county's hospital discharge registry.

Participants: Cohort study: 1462 pregnant women who had taken up prescriptions for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in the period from 30 days before conception to birth and 17 259 pregnant women who were not prescribed any drugs during pregnancy. Case-control study: 4268 women who had miscarriages, of whom 63 had taken non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and 29 750 primiparous controls who had live births.

Main outcome measures: Incidences of congenital abnormality, low birth weight, preterm birth, and miscarriage.

Results: Odds ratios for congenital abnormality, low birth weight, and preterm birth among women who took up prescriptions for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs were 1.27 (95% confidence interval 0.93 to 1.75), 0.79 (0.45 to 1.38), and 1.05 (0.80 to 1.39) respectively. Odds ratios for the taking up of prescriptions in the weeks before miscarriage ranged from 6.99 (2.75 to 17.74) when prescriptions were taken up during the last week before the miscarriage to 2.69 (1.81 to 4.00) when taken up between 7 and 9 weeks before. The risk estimates were no different when the analysis was restricted to missed abortions.

Conclusions: Use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs during pregnancy does not seem to increase the risk of adverse birth outcome but is associated with increased risk of miscarriage.


  • Funding The study was supported by grants from the European Union BIOMED programme (contract No BMH4-CT97-2430), the Danish Medical Research Council (grant No 9700677), the North Jutland Research Council, Aalborg Stifts Julelotteri, and Speciallæge Heinrich Kopp's Legat. The Danish Epidemiology Science Centre is financed by a grant from the Danish National Research Foundation.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Embedded Image Further data on congenital abnormalities appear on the BMJ's website

  • Accepted 2 November 2000
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