Pregnancy Drug Dangers (cont.)
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How do prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medicine labels help my doctor choose the right medicine for me when I am pregnant?
Doctors use information from many sources when they choose medicine for a patient, including medicine labels. To help doctors, the FDA created pregnancy letter categories to help explain what is known about using medicine during pregnancy. This system assigns letter categories to all prescription medicines. The letter category is listed in the label of a prescription medicine. The label states whether studies were done in pregnant women or pregnant animals and if so, what happened. Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines do not have a pregnancy letter category. Some OTC medicines were prescription medicines first and used to have a letter category. Talk to your doctor and follow the instructions on the label before taking OTC medicines.
The FDA chooses a medicine's letter category based on what is known about the medicine when used in pregnant women and animals.
The FDA is working hard to gather more knowledge about using medicine during pregnancy. The FDA is also trying to make medicine labels more helpful to doctors. Medicine label information for prescription medicines is now changing, and the pregnancy part of the label will change over the next few years.
Keep in mind that other things like caffeine, vitamins, and herbal remedies can affect the growing fetus. Talk with your doctor about cutting down on caffeine and ask which type of vitamin you should take. Never use an herbal product without talking to your doctor first.
All OTC medicines have a Drug Facts label. The Drug Facts label is arranged the same way on all OTC medicines. This makes information about using the medicine easier to find. One section of the Drug Facts label is for pregnant women. With OTC medicines, the label usually tells a pregnant woman to speak with her doctor before using the medicine. Some OTC medicines are known to cause certain problems in pregnancy. The labels for these medicines give pregnant women facts about why and when they should not use the medicine. Here are some examples:
Viewers share their comments
Pregnancy and Drugs - Prescriptions Question: If you had a pre-existing health condition, did you stop or continue to take medication during your pregnancy?
Pregnancy and Drugs - Vitamins Question: What vitamins did you take during pregnancy, and did you discuss taking them with your doctor first?
Pregnancy and Drugs - Herbs Question: What herbal remedies or natural products did you take during your pregnancy, and did you talk to your doctor?