Medications – Use Caution

over-the-counter-drugs-to-avoid-during-pregnancyBefore taking any type of medication when pregnant, consult with your doctor or care provider, but do your own research as well.

When you speak with your care provider, it is in your best interest to be an informed patient, enabling you to better understand why or why it is not safe to take a specific drug or combination of drugs.

Doctors are not always happy to have their authority questioned, but with today’s web you can access studies and reports that will give you the latest information regarding drug side effects and pregnancies. Be sure to get your information from several sources, and check to see if they all refer to the same studies or if there is corroborating information from several studies. Look for dates to see when the research took place so you can be sure you are working with the most current information.

One of the principle complications or limitations in studies of drugs and pregnancy is that researchers are not inclined to use pregnant women as subjects or to place them into control groups where some participants receive a medication and other do not. Many studies are performed using animal subjects and then correlating the data to the effect in humans.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration labels drugs and medications with letters A,B,C,D, and X to define the risks during pregnancy.

  • A – A drug that has been demonstrated in clinical studies to present no danger to either the expectant mother or her baby.
  • B – Drugs believed to be generally safe. Class “
  • C –  Drugs that should be taken under the care of a health care provider
  • D – Drugs known to have definite risks, but may be  considered a necessary treatment of certain illnesses.
  • X –  A drug known to have greater risks to the mother or fetus than the benefits provided by the medication.

Aspirin and Anti-inflammatory Drugs

Although lower doses or baby aspirin is sometimes recommended as a treatment for high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia in pregnancy, a woman who is pregnant should not take an adult dose of aspirin, or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), ibuprofen products such as Advil or Motrin.

During the first trimester, taking adult or high dose aspirin has been shown to cause miscarriages as well as congenital defects. During the third trimester, aspirin use can affect your baby’s heart development. Long-term use of aspirin throughout a pregnancy also increases the risk of bleeding in the brain of a premature baby.

At this time, acetaminophen, marketed under the brand name Tylenol, is considered a safe alternative for pain relief.


Isotretinoin is a drug marketed under the name Accutane prescribed for the treatment of acne. Its risk to pregnant women, causing a wide range of serious birth defects, is well documented. A generic version of the drug is sold under several names such as Amnesteen, Claravis and Sotret. Because the high probability of birth defects is so well known, the greatest risk here may be to a woman taking the drug for her skin condition who then becomes pregnant.

Bismuth – Class C & D

Sold to consumers as Pepto Bismol and Kaopectate, Bismuth is considered a class “C” medication for the first and second trimesters and class “D” for the third trimester.

Bromphenirmine – Class C

Sold to consumers as Dimetapp.


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