In a drug safety communication issued today, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it is aware of recent reports "questioning" the safety of prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) pain medicines when used during pregnancy, but that it lacks adequate studies to change current recommendations.

The published studies we reviewed reported on the potential risks associated with the following three types of pain medicines used during pregnancy (see Data Summary section for more information about these studies):

  • Prescription NSAIDs and the risk of miscarriage in the first half of pregnancy.  Examples of prescription NSAIDs include ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, and celecoxib.
  • Opioids, which are available only by prescription, and the risk of birth defects of the brain, spine, or spinal cord in babies born to women who took these products during the first trimester of pregnancy. Examples of opioids include oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, morphine, and codeine.
  • Acetaminophen in both OTC and prescription products and the risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children born to women who took this medicine at any time during pregnancy. Acetaminophen is a common pain reducer and fever reducer found in hundreds of medicines including those used for colds, flu, allergies, and sleep.