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.