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What medications should I avoid if I'm pregnant or trying to get pregnant?

We know that taking certain medications during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. Examples are thalidomide (also known as Thalamid) and isotretinoin (also known as Accutane). Such medications should be avoided by all women who are or might become pregnant. While some medications are known to be harmful when taken during pregnancy, the safety of most medications taken by pregnant women has been difficult to determine.

Here's a list of medications you should avoid while pregnant:

  1. Accutane for acne.
  2. Aspirin: In rare cases, baby aspirin may be recommended in the first trimester to moms who have repeated miscarriages. Once outside of the first trimester, aspirin and drugs with similar action like ibuprofen and naproxen are not recommended as pain relievers during pregnancy as they may cause a drop in prostaglandin levels, which causes a tube from the baby's heart to close off too early (a process that naturally happens after birth).

These medications might have some risks for pregnant women:

  1. Nasal decongestants: Pseudophedrine (Sudafed), Tripolidine (Actifed)—avoid in first trimester.
  2. Pain medications with narcotics—not recommended for repetitive dosing.
  3. Diuretics/water pills.
  4. Some anti-depressants have FDA warnings, but the risks appear to be mild. There are rare complications for newborns with general classes of SSRI, and the Paxil category of anti-depressants have been thought to cause birth defects, but it doesn't.
Dr. Margaret L. McKenzie, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

Pregnant women shold be careful of all medication they are taking. Watch this video to learn what meds you can and can't take during pregnancy.

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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.