Aspirin and other similar non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may increase the risk for a number of severe birth defects, according to the results of a new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Defects associated with aspirin include clubfoot, spina bifida, cleft palate, amniotic band syndrome (ABS), and two severe eye defects known as anophthalmia and microphthalmia. Due to the serious nature of these congenital abnormalities, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has advised women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant to talk to their doctors before taking aspirin.
Aspirin & Pregnancy
The new study, which was conducted by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), involved data on the use of NSAIDs by expecting mothers during pregnancy gathered from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study.
The results found that women who took aspirin or Aleve (naproxen) were three times as likely to give birth to children with no eyes (anophthalmia), or with abnormally small eyeballs (microphthalmia). Additionally, the study indicated that expecting mothers who took NSAIDs during pregnancy had an increased risk of giving birth to babies with spina bifida, clubfoot, cleft palate, and amniotic band syndrome (ABS).
According to recent statistics, anophthalmia and microphthalmia occur in about one in 5,300 live births, while cleft palate, clubfoot, spina bifida and ABS occur in approximately one in 10,000 babies born in the United States each year.
One of the first drugs to come into popular usage, aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) is a common analgesic pain reliever indicated for minor aches and pains, as a fever reducer, as well as an anti-inflammatory medication. In recent years, aspirin has also become increasingly used to prevent blood clot formation in patients at risk for heart attacks and strokes. Aspirin is the most widely used over-the-counter drug in the world, with approximately 35,000 metric tons produced and consumed annually, enough to make over 100 billion standard aspirin tablets every year.
Aspirin Birth Defects
The maternal use of aspirin during pregnancy has been associated with the following birth defects:
Amniotic Band Syndrome (ABS)
- Clubfoot (congenital talipes equinovarus)
- Anophthalmia (also known as anophthalmos)
- Microphthalmia (also known as microphthalmos, nanophthalmia or nanophthalmos)
- Cleft Palate
- Spina Bifida