Medication Guidelines During Pregnancy

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Feb 18 2005 - 1:45pm

While some medications are considered safe during pregnancy, the effects of other medications on your unborn baby are unknown. Certain medications can be most harmful to a developing baby when taken during the first three months of pregnancy, often before a woman even knows she is pregnant.

Illegal drugs
Street drugs aren't good for your health, but they are even worse for your unborn baby's health, since drugs are passed to your baby while you are pregnant. Illegal drugs - such as angel dust, cocaine, crack, heroin, LSD, marijuana or speed -- increase the chance that your baby is born with addictions or serious health problems, or is born prematurely or underweight at birth. If you have been thinking about quitting drugs, now is the time to do it.

Let your health care provider know if you have ever used illegal drugs or if you have an addiction to any drugs so he or she can minimize the risk to your baby. Or call 1-800-COCAINE (1-800-262-2463) or 1-800-662-4357 (National Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Service) for more information.

Prescription medication guidelines
If you were taking prescription medications before you became pregnant, please ask your health care provider about the safety of continuing these medications as soon as you find out that you are pregnant.

Your health care provider will weigh the benefit to you and the risk to your baby when making his or her recommendation about a particular medication. With some medications, the risk of not taking them may be more serious than the potential risk associated with taking them.

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For example, if you have a urinary tract infection, your health care provider might prescribe an antibiotic. However, if the urinary tract infection was not treated, it could cause long-term problems for both the mother and her baby.

If you are prescribed any new medication, please inform your health care provider that you are pregnant. Be sure to discuss the risks and benefits of the newly prescribed medication with your health care provider.

Non-prescription (over-the-counter) medication guidelines
Prenatal vitamins, now available without a prescription, are safe to take during pregnancy. Ask your health care provider about the safety of taking other vitamins, herbal remedies and supplements during pregnancy. Most herbal preparations and supplements have not been proven to be safe when taken during pregnancy.

Generally, you should not take any over-the-counter medication unless it is necessary.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. For additional written health information, please contact the Health Information Center at the Cleveland Clinic (216) 444-3771 or toll-free (800) 223-2273 extension 43771 or visit www.clevelandclinic.org/health This document was last reviewed on: 10/3/2002

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