Women’s Health Now Blog. August 2018
Welcome to the inaugural Women’s Health Now blog. One of the missions of Women’s Health Now is to provide up to date information concerning Women’s Health. With these blogs, we are going to try to present relevant information related to Ob/Gyn and women’s Health in general. We welcome your comments on the Blogs we post and suggestions for future topics.
Having been a practicing pharmacist before entering medical school, one of the most common questions I was asked from pregnant moms was “ Is this medication safe for me to take when I’m pregnant”. This is also one of the most common questions I get now in my Ob/Gyn practice. This is such a huge area that it cannot be covered in one blog, however I will provide some of the basic information here and if there is interest,I can discuss this more in detail in the future.
It is generally accepted that the developing fetus may be affected by exposure to drugs and environmental chemicals. Any drug or chemical that produces permanent or structural changes in the fetus is called a Teratogen. The most infamous Teratogen was Thalidomide which had been administered to pregnant mothers as an antianxiety and hypnotic agent during the first trimester. This drug had been evaluated in several animal species and was declared safe. Of course we know today that just because a drug does not have an adverse effect in animals does not correlate to pregnant humans. Thalidomide caused thousands of malformed infants before the relationship between the birth defects and the drug was recognized.
Most effects of drugs and chemicals occur during the first trimester of development. Avoiding ingestion of medications and exposure to chemicals is important during this stage of development. The bulk of any drug entering the fetus is through the placenta. Drugs and chemicals can also enter breastmilk.
It is often not practical to try to avoid every single medication whether prescription or over the counter. The key is to know whether it is safe to take. Getting advice from your physician or pharmacist is important. Some medications have been used in pregnancy for many years and are considered safe to take, others may not be. Ask your physician about medications you want to take and if they are safe in pregnancy. If your physician is not available then your local pharmacist is also a great resource.
Lino A. Ossanna, MD is the medical director of Women’s Health Now.
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