Drugs and Pregnancy

As a pregnant woman, it is usual to have many questions about the use of medications during pregnancy, which is  a critical subject that may cause a lot of anxiety to you , especially if you  have just discovered that you are pregnant and begin to wonder about some  medication that you took before knowing about your pregnancy and whether it is a potential risk to your unborn baby.

Rebecca recollects the horrific experience when her doctor asked her to consider abortion because another doctor had prescribed her antibiotics for Urinary Tract Infection during the time of her conception. Her pregnancy tests had come negative initially. After consulting several doctors, the family decided to go ahead with the pregnancy and thankfully, Rebecca gave birth to a healthy baby boy. However, this may not be the case every time.

Well, to tell you the truth some medicines are considered to be safe during pregnancy while others can have adverse effects on your baby, but in the most cases, this issue can be a little more complicated. Your doctor will be required to make a  decision and to compare between the potential risk of a drug and its benefits for you, because it is necessary for you in many cases  to take some medicines even when you are pregnant, to mention a few , these critical cases can be : diabetes, seizures, and the common discomforts of pregnancy such as morning sickness, heartburn , or headaches.

FDA Pregnancy Categories

To assess the drug’s potential to cause a risk to the fetus, the FDA has established five categories A, B, C, D, X,(and the category N can be added also).

This classification can determine the reliability and the risk-to-benefit-ratio of a drug.

It is necessary to check every medicine according to this categorization (please note that the natural supplements and OTC medicines are also included) and this is especially important during the first trimester (0-13 weeks of pregnancy), which is a   critical period for the development of the fetus and the embryo.

  • Category A: Controlled and adequate  studies have failed to show a risk or to find any evidence of any harm (such as  levothyroxine and  folic acid)
  • Category B: In this category, there are no controlled studies on pregnant women, however, the studies on animals show no risks (such as Metformin and Amoxicillin )
  • Category C: Animal studies have shown  an adverse effect on  the fetus, there are no controlled studies in pregnant  women, or there are no available studies in women and animals, (such as  tramadol, amlodipine, and prednisone )
  • Category D: There is positive risk evidence on the fetus, but the potential benefits can justify the use of this Category despite this risk ( such as losartan, lorazepam, alprazolam, and clonazepam )
  • Category X:  this category is simply contraindicated in pregnancy because the risks of using this category in pregnant women can absolutely overcome the potential benefits. ( such as atorvastatin, warfarin, and  methotrexate )
  • Finally, there is also the category N, and medicines under this category have not been classified by FDA yet such as aspirin and diazepam.

My advice for you is to consult your healthcare provider before taking or even before stop taking any drug during pregnancy and do NOT skip any prescribed medication as many medicines play an important role and have important health benefits for you and for your baby as well.

You should also read the label and pay attention to the expiration dates and do not hesitate to ask questions.

Finally, I would like to say that depending on my own experience the cases in which the medicine caused a remarkable harm to babies were so few and so limited. So do not worry and just do what should be done and everything will be great.

Image Credits: Alexander Itunin via Flickr.com under the creative commons license.

Disclaimer: Image is only representational