The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates medications to ensure their general safety and effectiveness. All prescription and over-the-counter medications are tested to see if they are safe and effective before they become available to the public. Pregnant women usually are not included in these tests because of the possible risks to the unborn child. As a result, little information is available about the safety of most medications during pregnancy -- including those available over the counter -- when they first become available. It is important to know that dietary and herbal products also could be harmful to an unborn baby or have other side effects when used during pregnancy.
Pregnant animals sometimes are studied to help identify harmful medications. But animal studies do not always show how medications will work in humans. They might miss some harmful effects that medications have. And, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and dietary or herbal products are not always tested in animals.
The presence of the CDC logo and CDC content on this page should not be construed to imply endorsement by the US Government of any commercial products or services, or to replace the advice of a medical professional. The mark “CDC” is licensed under authority of the PHS.
More Answers from Coleen Boyle, PhD, MS