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The WHO had previously recommended the use of acetaminophen instead of ibuprofen to treat coronavirus symptoms, but they now say otherwise.

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Some of the most commonly used drugs for pain and fever can be dangerous to pregnant women and their unborn babies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday.

The agency requires labeling changes for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to explain that if women take these drugs at about 20 weeks or later in their pregnancy , they can cause fetal kidney problems.

NSAIDs include both prescription and over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen, commonly known by the brands Advil and Aleve. It also includes diclofenac, celecoxib and aspirin over 81 mg.

According to the FDA, these drugs work by blocking the production of a specific chemical in the body that causes inflammation.

“It is important for women to understand the benefits and risks of medications they can take in the course of their pregnancy,” said Dr. Patrizia Cavazzoni, acting director of the FDA’s Center for Evaluation and Research.

Fetal kidney problems can lead to other complications associated with pregnancy because the kidneys are responsible for producing amniotic fluid, the protective pillow that surrounds the baby.

Fetuses produce the most amniotic fluid starting about 20 weeks after conception, and kidneys damaged by NSIADs can result in low levels of amniotic fluid, reducing the protection of a baby inside the mother’s womb. .

Dr. Jennifer Wu, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said low levels of amniotic fluid can also cause problems in the baby’s development.

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Doctors may see a decrease in amniotic fluid levels as soon as two days after taking these drugs, the FDA said, but levels usually return to normal after stopping taking pregnant.

The pregnancy agency recommends avoiding NSAIDs after 20 weeks and opting for other medications to treat pain and fever during pregnancy, such as acetaminophen.

Wu said taking ibuprofen and other NSIADs in the third trimester can also cause heart problems in the baby.

“When you are pregnant, your baby is exposed to every drug you take,” Wu says. “So, you need to be careful and check with your healthcare provider before taking any medications, including over the counter medications.”

Follow Adrianna Rodriguez on Twitter: @AdriannaUSAT.

The coverage of health and patient safety in the USA TODAY was made possible as part of a grant from the Masimo Foundation for Ethics, Innovation and Competition in Healthcare. The Masimo Foundation does not provide editorial input.

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