Women who take even a small dose of painkillers such as ibuprofen early in their pregnancy more than double their risk of suffering a miscarriage, research shows.

The findings prompted medical experts to advise mothers-to-be to avoid taking the drug and instead to use paracetamol for pain relief.

Taking any painkillers from the class of medicines known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – such as ibuprofen (brands like Advil and Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn) and the arthritis drug celecoxib (Celebrex) – in the first 20 weeks after conception increases the risk of miscarriage by 2.4 times, the study found.

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The paper, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that pregnant women taking any type of NSAID, and any dose of one, ran that scale of extra risk of spontaneous abortion.

The women in the study, aged from 15 to 45, were compared with 47,050 women of a similar age who had not lost a baby during pregnancy, of whom 1,213 (2.6%) had used an NSAID.

They identified the drug with the highest risk of miscarriage as Diclofenac when used on its own, and the lowest as rofecoxib, which was taken out of use in 2004 because of safety concerns.

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