Medication Safety In Pregnancy

When a woman gets a positive pregnancy test, the first inclination may be to throw away all medications to protect the baby. However, there are many instances when over-the-counter and prescription medication may be necessary. A consultation with a pharmacist can be beneficial in finding out which drugs are safe to take during pregnancy.


Indications for medication use

During pregnancy, women need to continue treating chronic health problems and may also have to deal with emergent issues. Mental health conditions are commonly treated with antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication during pregnancy. Infections such as the flu, bacterial vaginosis (BV), or a urinary tract infection (UTI) may also require a prescription. Women with chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis (RA), asthma, migraines, or diabetes may find the benefits of treating the condition outweigh any possible risks.

The role of the pharmacist

A pharmacist is the go-to option when an expert is needed to discuss medication safety. These providers have a wealth of knowledge on various medications, drug-drug interactions, and prescription safety during pregnancy. A pharmacist can review the drug label and discuss any warnings issued by the manufacturer. This type of healthcare professional can also access databases containing data from research studies looking at medication use during pregnancy. If a pharmacist is unavailable or a second opinion is needed, an OB/GYN can be another good resource to evaluate safety.

Plan ahead

The best time to discuss medication use is before getting pregnant. While planning for a baby, the pharmacist can help determine if current medications need to be stopped or can be continued. Sometimes, a switch can be made to a safer version considered compatible with pregnancy. For roughly half of pregnancies that are unplanned, the woman should seek out information from a pharmacist or OB/GYN as soon as the pregnancy is recognized.

Evaluating risk in each trimester

What information is assessed when a pharmacist checks to see if a medication is safe? One of the main risks to check for is whether the prescription causes birth defects in the first trimester. The first 12 weeks of pregnancy are a critical time for organ development, so if a medication can interrupt development, this is the period when malformations can occur. With medication use later in pregnancy, the pharmacist will check for risks like preterm birth (PTB), small for gestational age (SGA), and withdrawal. Long-term data is often limited, but if there are effects on the baby’s brain, the pharmacist can review possible behavior or learning problems.

Treating for two

All parents want an easy pregnancy and a healthy baby. Although medications are sometimes necessary during pregnancy, the mom-to-be should always check with a pharmacist to guarantee safety. In some situations, a simple yes or no answer can be given, while other exposures will require a more thorough evaluation of risk vs benefit. A pharmacist’s trusted guidance can make all the difference when treating for two.


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