In mid-October, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced new labeling requirements for all prescription and over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These changes will include warnings that if taken after about 20 weeks of pregnancy, the drugs can cause rare but serious kidney problems in unborn babies which can lead to low levels of amniotic fluid, which is essential for their protection in the womb.
NSAIDs include medicines such as ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac, and celecoxib. While aspirin also is an NSAID, the new recommendations do not apply to the use of low-dose aspirin (81 mg), which is an important treatment for some women during pregnancy.
At about the 20-week mark, an unborn baby’s kidneys begin producing most of the amniotic fluid that surrounds it. In some cases, fetal kidney problems and lowered amniotic fluid levels have been detected after as little as two days of maternal NSAID use. The condition usually goes away if the mother stops taking the NSAID.