Drugs and Pregnancy

Should I Continue My Medicines When Pregnant?

Whether or not you should continue taking your drugs during pregnancy is a serious question. If you stop taking medications that you need, this could harm you and your baby. An example of this is if you have an infection called toxoplasmosis, which you can get from handling cat feces or eating infected meat. It can cause problems with the brain, eyes, heart, and other organs of a growing fetus. This infection requires treatment with antibiotics.
 
For pregnant women living with HIV, zidovudine (AZT) is recommended. Studies have found that HIV-positive women who take AZT during pregnancy decrease by two-thirds the risk of passing the virus to their babies.
 
If a diabetic woman does not take her medicine during pregnancy, she increases her risk for miscarriage and stillbirth (see Pregnant With Diabetes). If asthma and/or high blood pressure are not controlled during pregnancy, problems with the fetus may result. Talk with your healthcare provider about whether the benefits of taking a medication outweigh the risk for you and your baby.
 

Alternative Products and Pregnancy

While some herbal products say they will help with pregnancy, there have been no studies to determine if these claims are true. Likewise, few studies have assessed the safety and effectiveness of herbal supplements. Examples of popular herbs include echinacea, Ginkgo biloba, and St. John's wort.
 
Do not take any herbal products without talking to your healthcare provider first. These products may contain agents that could harm you and the growing fetus, and could cause problems with your pregnancy.
 

What Is DES?

The synthetic estrogen, diethylstilbestrol (DES), was first made in London in 1938. DES was used in the United States between 1938 and 1971 to prevent miscarriages. Many women who had problems with earlier pregnancies were given DES because it was thought to be safe and effective. Over time, it was found that not only did DES not prevent miscarriages, it also caused cancers of the vagina and cervix (the opening to the uterus or womb).
 
While many women were given DES over this time, many mothers do not remember what they were given by their healthcare providers when they were pregnant. Some prescription prenatal vitamins also contained DES. If your mother is not sure whether she took DES, you can talk with the healthcare provider she went to when she was pregnant with you, or you can contact the hospital for a copy of her medical records.
 
DES can affect both the pregnant woman and the child. Daughters born to women who took DES are at higher risk for cancer of the vagina and cervix. Sons born to women who took DES are more at risk for noncancerous growths on the testicles and underdeveloped testicles. Women who took DES may have a higher risk for breast cancer.
 
If you think or know that your mother took DES when she was pregnant with you, talk with your healthcare provider right away. Ask her or him what types of tests you may need, how often they need to be done, and anything else you may need to do to make sure you don't develop any problems.
 
Pregnancy and Pain

Pregnancy Info

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