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How do doctors know which medicine is safe for me during pregnancy?

Deborah Davis
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
We do not have enough information about the effects of many medications when they are taken by pregnant women.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration 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 are usually not included in these tests because of the possible risks to the unborn baby.  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.

Whether or not you should use medicine during pregnancy is a serious question to discuss with your doctor. Some health problems need treatment. Not using a medicine that you need could harm you and your baby. For example, a urinary tract infection (UTI) that is not treated may become a kidney infection. Kidney infections can cause preterm labor and low birth weight. An antibiotic is needed to get rid of a UTI. Ask your doctor whether the benefits of taking a certain medicine outweigh the risks for you and your baby.


This answer is based on source information from The U.S Department of Human Services Office on Womens Health.  

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.