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Are ADHD stimulant medications safe to use during pregnancy?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
Women of childbearing age are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and prescribed stimulant medications from time to time. When a woman with ADHD becomes pregnant, she and her doctor must decide on a course of treatment during pregnancy. Stimulant medications for ADHD are classified as Category C medications. This means that the medication should only be taken if the benefits to the mother outweigh any potential health risk to her unborn child.

The only evidence we have on the effects of stimulant medications during pregnancy is from animal studies. When pregnant animals were given extremely high doses of stimulant medications, their babies were born with birth defects. Thus far, clinical research reports have observed that human mothers usually give birth to healthy babies after taking stimulant medications for ADHD during pregnancy. Overall, the decision to take stimulant medications for ADHD during pregnancy should be made between a woman and her doctor, considering the risks and benefits involved.

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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.