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Medicines and Pregnancy

The risks involved with medicine use during pregnancy

When you are pregnant, always check with your healthcare provider or midwife before taking any prescription or over-the-counter medicines. This includes herbs and dietary supplements. All medicines affect the fetus. How they affect the fetus depends on the stage of development and the type and dose of the medicine.

If you take medicines for preexisting health problems such as epilepsy or high blood pressure, always check with tyour healthcare provider or midwife about those medicines. It's important to find medicines that are safe for the fetus and that work 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. It also tells what the effects are. For example, Category A medicines have been tested in pregnant women. Their babies had no problems linked to using the medicine. Category X medicines have been shown to be unsafe for unborn babies. They should never be used by pregnant women. Unfortunately, there is little scientific data on the effects of many medicines on a pregnancy.

Always talk with your healthcare provider or midwife before taking any medicine during pregnancy. Know about the risks of taking a medicine as well as the benefits.

Online Medical Reviewer: Freeborn, Donna, PhD, CNM, FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: Sacks, Daniel, MD, FACOG
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2018
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