Diclofenac and Pregnancy

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as diclofenac) pass through the placenta to the fetus when used during pregnancy. The most serious side effects appear to occur near the end of pregnancy. Due to these potential risks, it is important that you talk to your healthcare provider if pregnancy occurs while you are taking diclofenac.

Is Using Diclofenac While Pregnant Safe?

Diclofenac is an active ingredient in various different prescription medications. It belongs to a group of commonly used medications known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs may present some risks to the fetus when taken during pregnancy, especially when used late in pregnancy.

Pregnancy Category C

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses a pregnancy category system to classify the possible risks to a fetus when a specific medicine is taken during pregnancy. Pregnancy Category C is given to medicines that have not been studied in pregnant humans but do appear to cause harm to the fetus in animal studies. Also, medicines that have not been studied in any pregnant women or animals are automatically given a pregnancy Category C rating.

Can Diclofenac Cause Pregnancy Complications?

Diclofenac is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that passes through the placenta to the fetus. The most serious effects of NSAID use occur near the end of pregnancy. For this reason, it is almost always recommended that pregnant women avoid taking NSAIDs (including diclofenac) during the later part of pregnancy (from about 30 weeks on).
The specific risks of NSAID use during pregnancy include:
  • Prolonged pregnancy (since NSAIDs inhibit the prostaglandins that help stimulate labor)
  • Increased risk of miscarriage
  • Possible increased risk of birth defects (although this risk appears to be small)
  • Poor kidney function in the fetus
  • Premature closure of the ductus arteriosus (a potentially fatal heart problem) in the fetus
  • Persistent pulmonary hypertension (a very serious lung problem) in the newborn.
It should also be noted that women trying to become pregnant should avoid NSAIDs, since these drugs appear to interfere with the implantation process (making pregnancy more difficult to achieve).
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