10 Medications Pregnant Women Should Avoid

aspirinPregnancy is a joyous, exciting time in a woman’s life. It’s also an altogether uncomfortable one, especially when there are health complications or unexpected illnesses involved. The same medications that you reached for without a second thought before conception are no longer safe for you to take, something that you may not realize when you’re not feeling well and haven’t consulted a medical professional. These are 10 of the medications that pregnant women should never take, unless they’re under the close supervision of a medical professional who has prescribed them because the benefits of treatment are believed to outweigh the risks of taking the medication.

  • Aspirin – Both aspirin and ibuprofen are common pain relievers that are available over the counter, but they’re not considered safe for use by pregnant women. On occasion, low-dose aspirin therapy may be recommended for some pregnant women. As a whole, however, aspirin does interfere with the way blood clots, which can lead to both maternal and fetal bleeding in some cases.
  • Thalomid – Unless you have leprosy or a rare form of cancer, there’s almost no chance that your doctor will prescribe Thalomid. What you may not realize, however, is that Thalomid is the brand name for the drug thalidomide, which was once used to treat a variety of symptoms in pregnant women. The substance causes severe birth defects and is classified as a Category X drug, meaning it should never be prescribed to, used or handled by pregnant women.
  • Accutane – Accutane is a popular drug used to treat cystic acne, and one that doctors heavily counsel women about before prescribing due to the fact that it can cause severe brain and heart defects and a host of developmental issues. If you plan to become pregnant or are not taking precautions to prevent pregnancy, it’s extremely ill-advised to continue taking Accutane.
  • Castor Oil – One folk remedy for a long pregnancy is a large dose of castor oil, which is believed to stimulate labor. It can, in fact, cause uterine contractions and often does stimulate labor, but it’s also a powerful laxative that can cause diarrhea, dehydration and vomiting. Abdominal pain and cramping can also accompany the use of castor oil, which means that it’s just not safe to use this method of naturally inducing labor unless you’ve been advised to do so by a midwife or obstetrician that’s carefully monitoring your condition.
  • Chlorpheniramine – While chlorpheniramine, the active ingredient in many over-the-counter allergy and sinus medications, is classified as a Category B drug during pregnancy, it’s not advised for women in the third trimester to take the medication. If the medication is taken in the last two weeks of pregnancy, it can cause some eye problems and complications in newborn infants, especially those who are premature.
  • Pseudoephedrine – The Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University found that one of the most commonly used drugs during pregnancy, pseudoephedrine, has been liked to ear, heart and digestive tract birth defects when taken during the first trimester. In fact, the risk of these defects is up to eight times higher when pseudoephedrine is used, according to the supervising physician who oversaw the study, Dr. Allen Mitchell.
  • Appetite Suppressants – When you’re gaining weight rapidly and your body is expanding to accommodate the new life growing inside it, the idea of continuing to gain weight can be a terrifying one. What you shouldn’t do, however, is turn to appetite suppressants or thermogenic diet pills. In addition to the small risk of depriving the fetus of essential nutrition, these drugs can often contain high levels of caffeine, which has been linked to an increased risk of miscarriage.
  • Warfarin – Because it passes through the placental barrier and can cause fetal bleeding, the drug Warfarin, also known as Coumadin, is contraindicated during pregnancy. It can also cause skeletal abnormalities, facial disfiguration and developmental disabilities. If you plan to become pregnant or are not taking active precautions to prevent becoming pregnant, you should discuss alternative treatments and possible pregnancy complications with your primary care provider.
  • Simvastatin – More and more women are becoming pregnant later in life, which can introduce a host of complications when it comes to medications for existing medical conditions. If you’re on medication for high cholesterol, especially simvastatin, you should discuss the risks involved in the event that you do become pregnant. Simvastatin is a Category X drug, and can cause abnormal fetal development.
  • Danazol – Used to treat endometriosis, danzanol is a synthetic hormone that is contraindicated during pregnancy due to the possibility of masculinization of a female fetus. If you’re taking danzanol, it’s imperative that you discuss the risks in the event of an unexpected pregnancy. You should also be sure that you don’t handle danzanol during a pregnancy, and that you consult your physician immediately if you believe that there’s a chance you could become pregnant.
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