Medications



Are there any prescription medicines I should worry about taking now?

Why should I talk to my health care provider about over-the-counter medicines I'm taking?

Are alternative or "natural" remedies safe?




Are there any prescription medicines I should worry about taking now?

  • Prescription medications such as Accutane, Thalomid, Paxil, and anything labeled a teratogen (anything that causes malformation of an embryo or fetus) should not be used by women planning to get pregnant or after conception. These medicines can cause serious birth defects and miscarriage. 

    • Accutane is prescribed for severe acne and if taken during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects in the central nervous system, bone and heart defects, impeded fetal growth, increased likelihood of miscarriage, and mental retardation.
    • Thalomid, once known as Thalidomide, was used to treat leprosy and some arthritic disorders, and is now prescribed for ulcers and AIDS. This, too, if taken during pregnancy, can cause serious birth defects such as fetal limb deformities and kidney and heart defects.
    • Paxil, (also available as Paxil CR, Pexeva, and generic paroxetine hydrochloride) is a drug used to treat depression. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently advised that women taking it in their first trimester of pregnancy may have an increased risk for heart defects in their baby.
    • Lamictal is prescribed to treat seizures and bipolar disorder.  This drug, taken during the first trimester, may increase your risk of having a baby with a cleft lip or cleft palate (a gap in the upper lip or roof of the mouth).

      If you are taking any of these, talk to your health care provider about the best way to stop, or gradually stop, taking them at least one month before trying to get pregnant.  You should not simply stop taking them on your own. 

  • Medicines used to treat infections, epilepsy, blood clots, and some cancers can be risky. If you are prescribed any medications, be sure to tell your health care provider that you are planning to get pregnant. Ask specifically if this medication might have any negative affects on you or a fetus.

  • Avoid new drugs. Many have not been tested for their impact on pregnant women and a fetus.

Remember, different prescription medications have different degrees of risk in terms of their affect on you and a growing fetus. Some are completely safe while others may be very harmful. 

Why should I talk to my health care provider about over-the-counter medicines I'm taking?

Even cold or headache remedies sold without a prescription (over-the-counter) at a pharmacy or drug store are strong medicine. Tell your health care provider what you are taking in case they might affect your ability to get pregnant or in case they can have an effect on a growing fetus. This site also has resources for finding out more about non-prescription medicines.

Are alternative or "natural" remedies safe?

Most "natural" remedies and herbal dietary supplements have not been tested to determine their effects during pregnancy. Many have active ingredients that have strong biological effects and their safety is not always assured. Also, some interact dangerously with some prescription medicines. You could be putting yourself and your baby at risk if you don't discuss all the possible consequences with your caregiver. You might need to stop taking some of these remedies before becoming pregnant.
Most recent page update: 10/26/2012


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