Medication Use in Pregnancy
When you are pregnant, anything you ingest affects not only you, but also your baby. For that reason, most experts recommend against using medications, over the counter and prescription, during pregnancy. For some women, medications help ensure healthy body functioning. Because of this, medication use should be determined on a case by case basis.
Some things to consider when deciding if you should use a medication:
Everything that enters your body (except synthetic insulin), passes through the placenta to your baby. Because medications are dosed based on size, the amount of medication that reaches your baby can be equivalent to ten times the amount you took.
Your baby’s immature organs are not able to metabolize (break down) the chemicals in medications as quickly or efficiently as you do. This can mean your baby is exposed to the medication longer than you are.
Most common illnesses for which women use over the counter medications can be treated by non-chemical means such as rest, diet changes, and home remedies such as cool washcloths on the forehead to relieve discomfort and humidifiers to help open nasal passages.
The physical changes that occur with some conditions and illnesses may pose a threat to your baby. In these cases, it is important to weigh the risks of using a medication against the risks of not using a medication.
It is sometimes possible to reduce the dose of a medication you use to help lower the risk to your baby. It may also be possible to use a different medication which has less risk.
The USFDA categorizes medications based on the amount and type of information available about using a medication during pregnancy. Manufacturers are required to list a medications category on the package insert.
Current Categories for Drug Use in Pregnancy
A Adequate, well-controlled studies in pregnant women have not shown an increased risk of fetal abnormalities.
B Animal studies have revealed no evidence of harm to the fetus, however, there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. or Animal studies have shown an adverse effect, but adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus.
C Animal studies have shown an adverse effect and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. or No animal studies have been conducted and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women.
D Studies, adequate well-controlled or observational, in pregnant women have demonstrated a risk to the fetus. However, the benefits of therapy may outweigh the potential risk.
X Studies, adequate well-controlled or observational, in animals or pregnant women have demonstrated positive evidence of fetal abnormalities. The use of the product is contraindicated in women who are or may become pregnant.