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Medicines and Pregnancy

The risks involved with medicine use during pregnancy

When pregnant, a woman should always check with her healthcare provider or midwife before taking any prescription or over-the-counter medicines, including herbs and dietary supplements. All medicines affect the fetus differently, depending on the stage of development and the type and dosage of the medicine being taken.

Women who take medicines for preexisting medical conditions, like epilepsy or high blood pressure, should always check with their healthcare provider or midwife about those medicines. It is important to find medicines that are safe for the fetus as well as effective in treating the condition. 

The FDA has created pregnancy letter categories that help explain what is known about using medicines during pregnancy. These letter categories tell whether the medicine was tested in pregnant animals or pregnant humans and the effects. For example, Category A medicines have been tested in pregnant women and their babies had no problems related to using the medicine. Category X medicines have been shown to be dangerous for unborn babies and should never be used by pregnant women. Unfortunately, there is little scientific information available about the effects of many medicines on a pregnancy.

Always talk with your healthcare provider or midwife before taking any medicine during pregnancy. Be sure you are aware of the potential risks of taking a medicine as well as the benefits.

Online Medical Reviewer: Burd, Irina, MD, PhD
Online Medical Reviewer: Finke, Amy, RN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 8/28/2015
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