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Medications and Pregnancy

The risks involved with medication use during pregnancy

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

Women who take medications for preexisting medical conditions, such as epilepsy or high blood pressure, should always check with their doctor or midwife about those medications. It is important to find medications 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 medications 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 medications on a pregnancy.

Always consult your doctor or midwife before taking any medication during pregnancy. Be sure you are aware of the potential risks of taking a medication as well as the benefits.

Online Medical Reviewer: Dozier, Tennille, RN, BSN, RDMS
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Date Last Reviewed: 5/12/2013
© 2000-2014 The StayWell Company, LLC. 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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