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Most pregnant women use acetaminophen

BOSTON, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- Pregnant women in the United States balance relief from pain and illness and the health of their fetus as they take more over-the-counter medicines than ever.

Boston University researchers found in a study of more than 10,000 mothers that two-thirds took acetaminophen and one-in-six took ibuprofen or a decongestant during their pregnancy.

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The findings show pregnant women's use of over-the-counter drugs is "high enough to warrant concern," lead researcher Martha Werler told The Washington Post.

"Probably most of the medications are not strongly associated with birth defects," said Werler of the study published in September issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. "What we don't know is" the weaker associations."

Many obstetrical practitioners say the drugs are safe. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says acetaminophen, antihistamines and aspirin are not known to harm fetuses.

Studies are under way to study the OTC drugs' effect on fetuses, the newspaper reported.

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