A legitimate concern for women is the safety of medication while pregnant or breastfeeding. Many wonder whether their medications are harmful to the baby. While many over the counter medications are probably safe, the “safety” of a particular medication is not always clearly defined, information can be conflicting, and it can be hard to find the correct answers on your own. In general, be wary of the internet as websites are misleading. Ideally you should discuss your medications with your doctor; however, if needed the CDC (Center for Disease Control) recommends the following resources for patients looking to obtain information on their own:
When I am asked whether or not a medication is “safe”, I review the medication on trusted online databases to obtain the most up to date information. Databases such as Micromedex and Reprotox are subscription only and provide not only a brief summary of medication safety but also the relevant studies from which recommendations are made. Furthermore, these subscription services provide recommendations from other leading organizations such as the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) and the WHO (World Health Organization).
Together, my patient and I, review the relevant information in regards to a particular medication and the strength of the data supporting this information. I explain that only some medications have been well studied in pregnancy. Finally, I consider the need for the medication and the risk of untreated maternal disease when weighing the potential or unknown risks.
1.) The best advice is to discuss your medication list with your doctor prior to getting pregnant or as soon as possible in pregnancy.
2.) It is not advised to abruptly stop or start medications without your doctor and your obstetrician’s knowledge.
3.) Avoid using websites that provide lists of “safe medications” as this information may be too simplistic, too restrictive, or just incorrect.
Maternal Fetal Medicine blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!