There are times during your pregnancy when you may want or need to take medication. You may have a bad cold and want to take a decongestant to help you breathe, or you may develop a urinary tract infection (UTI) and need to take antibiotics for several days.
Before you begin taking any medication, you and your doctor need to discuss the benefits and possible risks of taking the medicine, as some medication has possible side effects that could harm your baby. To help doctors determine some of these benefits and risks, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has developed a labeling system for many common medications to easily express what is understood about using the medicine during pregnancy. These labels are used on prescription medications only; over-the-counter medications do not feature labels unless they were previously prescription-only medicines and were given a label at that time. The following chart shows the different letter categories and what they mean.
||Examples of Drugs
|| In human studies, pregnant women used the medicine and their babies did not have any problems related to using the medicine.
- Folic Acid
- Levothyroxine (thyroid hormone medicine)
||In humans, there are no good studies. But in animal studies, pregnant animals received the medicine, and the babies did not show any problems related to the medicine.
OR In animal studies, pregnant animals received the medicine, and some babies had problems. But in human studies, pregnant women used the medicine and their babies did not have any problems related to using the medicine.
- Some antibiotics like amoxicillin
- Zofran® (ondansetron) for nausea
- Glucophage® (metformin) for diabetes
- Some insulins used to treat diabetes such as regular and NPH insulin
|| In humans, there are no good studies. In animals, pregnant animals treated with the medicine had some babies with problems. However, sometimes the medicine may still help the human mothers and babies more than it might harm.
OR No animal studies have been done, and there are no good studies in pregnant women.
- Diflucan® (fluconazole) for yeast infections
- Ventolin® (albuterol) for asthma
- Zoloft® (sertraline) and Prozac® (fluoxetine) for depression
|| Studies in humans and other reports show that when pregnant women use the medicine, some babies are born with problems related to the medicine. However, in some serious situations, the medicine may still help the mother and the baby more than it might harm.
- Paxil® (paroxetine) for depression
- Lithium for bipolar disorder
- Dilantin® (phenytoin) for epileptic seizures
- Some cancer chemotherapy
|| Studies or reports in humans or animals show that mothers using the medicine during pregnancy may have babies with problems related to the medicine. There are no situations where the medicine can help the mother or baby enough to make the risk of problems worth it. These medicines should never be used by pregnant women.
- Accutane® (isotretinoin) for cystic acne
- Thalomid® (thalidomide) for a type of skin disease
Information on many common medications can be found on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's website. The FDA is continuing to collect more information about the benefits and risks of taking specific medications during pregnancy.
You should always discuss with your doctor any medication you are taking or thinking of taking and be sure the prescribing doctor knows that you are pregnant. However, never stop taking any prescribed medication without talking with your doctor.