What's the latest in medication safety for moms-to-be? According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued revised drug safety guidelines for pregnant woman, including warnings for the following medications:
- Topiramate: The FDA has strengthened warnings that taking topiramate (brand name Topamax®) during pregnancy, a drug used for migraine relief or to control seizures, puts babies at increased risk for cleft lips or cleft palates.
- Antipsychotics: The FDA issued a warning to doctors that newborns whose mothers took antipsychotic medications during pregnancy could suffer withdrawal symptoms such as agitation and difficulty breathing and feeding for hours or days after birth. These drugs include brand name medications Haldol®, Zyprexa®, Seroquel®, and Abilify®.
- Terbutaline: Updated FDA warnings caution that terbutaline, an asthma drug also used to halt preterm labor, should not be used by pregnant women due to the potential for maternal heart problems or death.
- Pain Relievers: According to a CDC warning, taking pain relievers containing opioids—such as Vicodin®, Oxycontin®, and Tylenol® with codeine—just before or in early pregnancy increases the risk of congenital heart defects, glaucoma, and other developmental problems in babies.
To make it easier to understand medication use during pregnancy, the FDA has created medication safety categories. Drugs labeled as Class A have been tested and found to be safe during pregnancy (including folic acid vitamins, vitamin B6, and some thyroid medicines). Category B drugs are frequently used during pregnancy and do not appear to cause major birth defects or other problems; some antibiotics, acetaminophen, aspartame, famotidine (Pepcid®), prednisone, insulin (for diabetes), and ibuprofin before the third trimester are included in this class. Your prenatal care provider can tell you whether your medications fall into one of these categories. Drugs labeled as a Class C or D drug are medications that may (or are very likely to) cause birth defects.
How pregnancy-safe are the contents of your medicine cabinet? No matter how infrequently you might take a medication, even a basic over-the-counter remedy, check with your doctor or midwife first before using.