Getting Pregnant While on Prescription Medications: Is it Safe?

WHAT'S YOUR REACTION?

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 When a woman is pregnant, it is normal for her to be concerned about the prescription drugs that she might be taking. Some prescription drugs have been proven to be safe for pregnant women, and others have proven to be dangerous to pregnant women and their unborn baby.

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There is no black and white, yes or no answer to the question of which medications are safe for pregnant women. This is a very complicated topic and we are going to try to cover the basics.

1. Talk With Your Doctor

The most important thing that a woman should do is to have a thorough conversation with her doctor about any current prescription medications she is taking. This is best if a woman can have this conversation before she starts trying to conceive, so she can know what to expect regarding her pregnancy and what will happen with her medications.

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Some medical conditions, like diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, asthma, and epilepsy, can be dangerous for both a mom and an unborn baby, so for these medications, the best course of action is to stay on the medications during pregnancy.

However, some medications have proven to cause birth defects or increased chances of things like miscarriage or stillbirth. For these medications, it is best to stop using them during pregnancy. It is a very important conversation to have with your doctor if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.

2. Classes Of Prescription Drugs

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has set up several different categories of prescription drugs when it comes to pregnancy. The categories are A, B, C, D and X, and each one represents drugs at different safety levels. For example, drugs in the A category are perfectly safe for pregnant women, and have undergone lots of testing, like Tylenol for example.

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Category C drugs, for example, are drugs that have shown adverse effects on pregnant animals during animal testing. Zoloft and Prozac are both category C drugs. As you can imagine, Category X drugs are drugs that pose a significant risk to pregnant women and should not be used. Accutane is a Category X drug.

3. What To Remember

It is important to remember that not all prescription drugs are bad during pregnancy. Actually, in some cases, it can be more dangerous to stop your prescription drug than to stay on it.

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This is why it is so important to discuss these things with your doctor before you get pregnant or as soon as you find out that you are pregnant. Your doctor will also be able to tell you more about the effects of any dietary supplements, herbs, or over the counter medications that you might be taking.

Dr. Karen Leham, MD

Dr. Karen Leham is double board-certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and in Reproductive Endocronology and Infertility. Dr. Leham completed her residency at Loyola University, followed by a fellowship at UCLA.