It’s normal to have some aches and pains during pregnancy. However, many common over-the-counter medications can cause harm to your baby if you take them without a doctor’s supervision. Unfortunately, you may be unable to avoid these potentially dangerous drugs. But you can take steps to minimize your exposure and talk with your doctor about any prescription medications you are taking.
Some medicines are safe to take during pregnancy, but some can cause birth defects and other health problems. And certain types of prescription painkillers should not be taken by women who are or might become pregnant.
The major reason for avoiding these drugs during pregnancy is that they can cause birth defects in newborn babies. These birth defects even cause death sooner or later. According to WHO, every year, 240,000 newborns die within a month due to birth defects and abnormalities. Although all these birth defects are not due to medication, most are.
Medications that can cause birth defects:
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NSAIDs are medicines that relieve pain, fever, and inflammation. Some of the common NSAIDs are Disprin (Aspirin) and Advil (Ibuprofen), Tylenol (Acetaminophen), and many other over-the-counter medications. NSAIDs can be harmful to you and your baby during pregnancy because they:
- Increase the risk of miscarriage by about 50%.
- Increase the risk of premature birth. Premature babies have a higher chance of health problems, especially breathing problems. It can lead to serious complications for both you and your baby.
Of the NSAID drugs mentioned above, Tylenol (Acetaminophen) is one of the most popular medications for fever and pain. However, it is unsafe for pregnant women because it may produce Autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in kids exposed to it during pregnancy.
The woman who consumed Tylenol during pregnancy and her child has developed any kind of abnormality can take legal action against the manufacturer and distributor of that drug. In addition, she is eligible to file a Tylenol ADHD lawsuit against the manufacturers if the child suffers from ADHD.
If you need a painkiller, talk with your doctor about the safest option for you and your baby. Talk about how often you’ll need to take medicine and how much will be safe for both of you. If any side effects could affect either of you, what other medications might interact with it?
You’ll also want to discuss whether alternative treatments would better treat your pain than prescription drugs, such as over-the-counter Ibuprofen. Finally, never self-medicate. Always seek advice from a medical professional before using any drug during pregnancy.
Paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen, is a painkiller you can purchase over the counter. It is commonly found in cold and flu medications for headaches, muscle aches, toothaches, and menstrual pain. In addition, Paracetamol can cause birth defects in your baby if you take it during pregnancy.
According to the National Birth Defects Prevention Study (NBDPS), in the U.S., 1 in every 33 babies is born with a defect. However, the exact cause of the defect is being studied, but most cases are due to the consumption of over-the-counter medications (not necessarily Paracetamol) by pregnant women.
Some of these birth defects include:
- Spina bifida: where the vertebrae do not fully close around the spinal cord
- Cleft lip or cleft palate: which causes a split in the lip or roof of your mouth
- Heart defects: a hole between chambers of the heart (ventricular septal defect)
If you are taking Paracetamol during your pregnancy, let your GP know so they can write you a prescription for another painkiller instead. Paracetamol may also cause liver damage in women who are pregnant.
According to the CDC, 90% of women take at least one medicine during pregnancy that their doctor may not prescribe, and 70% take at least one prescription medicine. Out of these medicines, Ibuprofen is quite common.
Ibuprofen is a painkiller to reduce fever, relieve headaches and muscle aches, and treat minor arthritis pain. It is also used to prevent blood clots in people who are at high risk for developing blood clots.
However, Ibuprofen is not recommended during pregnancy because it can cause harm to the baby’s development. In addition, studies have suggested that it may increase the risk of miscarriage or premature birth if taken by pregnant women.
Ibuprofen has been linked with several side effects, including gastric distress and ulcers. The drug has also been shown to trigger premature labor in pregnant women.
Aspirin is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to treat pain, fever, and inflammation. It also prevents blood clots and reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke. Aspirin has been used for more than 100 years during pregnancy and lactation. However, it is not recommended for pregnant women because it may increase the chance of miscarriage or premature birth.
Antibiotics are a common medicine used to treat bacterial infections. While they can be effective, it’s important to remember that antibiotics will not help you get better faster if you have a viral infection.
Viral infections include colds, flu, and conditions like the flu or bronchitis. These are caused by viruses that can’t be treated with antibiotics. Taking antibiotics for these types of illnesses won’t do anything except make you feel sicker because they kill off good bacteria in your body.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, Antibiotics should also never be taken if there’s a chance that either you or your baby would be affected by them later on down the line. Thus, it’s best not to take them while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Appetite Suppressants & Diet Pills
Appetite suppressants and diet pills are sources of conflict between pregnant women and their doctors. The drugs trick the brain into thinking that you are full, so people who take them often eat less than they normally would. However, these medicines have been linked to serious side effects for both the mother and baby.
If you are unsure whether a particular drug is safe for pregnant women, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Certain medicines are unsafe to take when pregnant because they can cause harm to the baby’s development or trigger premature labor.
If you need medicine, take it exactly as directed. Never take extra doses of medicine unless your doctor tells you to do so. Even if a medicine is not on this list and has been prescribed by a health care provider, check with your health care provider before using it during pregnancy or breastfeeding.