Pregnant women should avoid use of certain anti-inflammatory drugs: Health Canada

Aspirin tablets are seen in this undated file photo. (AP / Houston Chronicle, Dave Einsel)

Health Canada is advising women who are 20 weeks pregnant or longer not to use certain anti-inflammatory drugs, due to rare kidney complications in the baby.

The health agency is advising against the use of non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) -- such as acetylsalicylic acid, ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac and celecoxib -- among women who are between 20 and 28 weeks pregnant, as these drugs “may cause rare but serious kidney problems in an unborn baby.”

“This can lead to low levels of amniotic fluid and possible complications, such as impaired lung maturation and loss of joint movement (limb contractures) in the newborn baby,” Health Canada wrote in a news release.

Recommendations already indicate that pregnant women in the third trimester of pregnancy -- from 28 weeks until birth -- should not take NSAIDs.

If a healthcare professional does suggest the use of NSAIDs for a pregnant woman between 20 and 28 weeks of pregnancy, Health Canada suggests taking the lowest dose for the shortest possible time frame and to “consider monitoring amniotic fluid levels via ultrasound if treatment extends beyond 48 hours.”

The recommendations do not apply to low-dose aspirin, drugs designed for children under the age of 12 and drugs that are administered directly into the eye.

The updated recommendations will be added to the product labels of both prescription and non-prescription NSAIDs.

“Health Canada continues to monitor the situation closely and will take further action to help protect the health and safety of Canadians, if necessary,” Health Canada wrote. “This includes continuing to work with Canadian manufacturers of NSAID products to take appropriate action in Canada in light of this new evidence.”