Safe medications

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Question

Is it safe to take medications during pregnancy?

Answer

Because of the ethical issue surrounding the testing of medications in pregnant women, there is not enough data available to give a definitive answer on safety. On the positive side, however, there is some data available on certain medications that doctors have been using for years to determine the appropriate therapy for a pregnant woman.

It is important to remember that, because of the fear of how a drug might affect the baby, taking less of that prescribed medication dose may actually do more harm than good. When deciding how to treat a pregnant woman's medical condition, the physician will compare the risks and benefits of the medication, review animal and human studies, and determine the woman's need for the medication before prescribing any.

If you are being treated for a medical condition during pregnancy, always discuss with your doctor whether you need medication and, if so, how and when to take it. In addition, do not take any over-the-counter medications, herbal remedies, or vitamins without first discussing it with your physician. Some of these products could harm you and/or your unborn baby.

The Food and Drug Administration has developed a rating scale - A, B, C, D, and X - for doctors and pharmacists to determine the safety of medications on a fetus:

A

Adequate, well-controlled studies in pregnant women have not shown an increased risk of fetal abnormalities.

B

1) Animal studies have revealed no evidence of harm to the fetus; however, there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women.

2) 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

1) Animal studies have shown an adverse effect, and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women.

2) 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.

Get more information on pregnancy in our Pregnancy Center.

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