Relafen (generic: nabumetone) is an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain reliever that is typically used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, a recent study has found that expecting mothers who take Relafen and other similar drugs have an increased likelihood of having babies with severe birth defects. Congenital abnormalities linked to Relafen include cleft palate, spina bifida, clubfoot, amniotic band syndrome (ABS), and two severe eye conditions known as anophthalmia and microphthalmia.
What’s the problem?
Pregnant women who use Relafen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) while pregnant have a heightened risk of delivering babies with rare birth defects, according to the results of a new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
The study included information obtained from women in interviews about the drugs they took during their pregnancies. Researchers compared the use of NSAIDs among 15,000 women whose babies had birth defects with 5,500 women whose babies were born without any congenital abnormalities.
The research found that babies exposed to NSAIDs in utero were three times more likely to be born with no eyes (anophthalmia) or with abnormally small eyeballs (microphthalmia), a birth defect that often leads to blindness. These women were also three times more likely to have babies with amniotic band syndrome, an abnormality that occurs when strands of the amniotic sac tear in the womb and entangle digits, limbs, or other parts of the developing fetus. Additionally, the risk of spina bifida jumped by 60% in babies whose mothers had used NSAIDs during pregnancy.
Relafen Birth Defects
The following birth defects have been associated with the maternal use of Relafen during pregnancy:
While the new research does not prove conclusively that Relafen and other NSAIDs cause birth defects, the results of the study are alarming and call for the need for further research in the future. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has urged women to consult with their healthcare providers about the risk of birth defects prior to undergoing a regimen of Relafen.