Voltaren Gel and Pregnancy

Studies have shown that NSAIDs (including Voltaren Gel) may potentially cause risks to a fetus. Some of these risks may include miscarriages, birth defects, or prolonged pregnancies. Even though Voltaren Gel is applied to the skin, some of the medication is absorbed into the bloodstream and passes through the placenta to the fetus. If pregnancy occurs while you are using Voltaren Gel, contact your healthcare provider.

Is Voltaren Gel Safe During Pregnancy?

Voltaren® Gel (diclofenac gel) is a prescription arthritis medication. It may present some risks to the fetus when taken during pregnancy, although the full risks are currently unknown.

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.
In general, animal studies have failed to show significant risks associated with the use of diclofenac (the active ingredient in Voltaren Gel), although one study suggested that there may be a link between diclofenac and cleft palate in mice. Voltaren Gel has not been studied in pregnant women.

NSAIDs and Pregnancy Complications

Diclofenac is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). Even though Voltaren Gel is applied to the skin, some of the medication is absorbed into the bloodstream and passed through the placenta to the fetus. Studies have demonstrated that NSAIDs (including diclofenac) can cause certain problems during pregnancy in humans, including:
  • Increased risk of miscarriage
  • Possible increased risk of birth defects (although this risk appears to be small)
  • Prolonged pregnancy (as NSAIDs inhibit the prostaglandins that help stimulate labor)
  • 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.
The most serious effects of NSAID use occur near the end of pregnancy. It should also be noted that women trying to become pregnant should avoid NSAIDs, as they appear to interfere with the implantation process.
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