Pregnancy Drug Dangers (cont.)

Are herbal remedies or natural products safe for me when I am pregnant?

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Except for some vitamins, little is known about using dietary supplements while pregnant. Some herbal remedy labels claim they will help with pregnancy. But, most often there are no good studies to show if these claims are true or if the herb can cause harm to or your baby. Talk with your doctor before using any herbal product or dietary supplement. These products may contain things that could harm you or your growing baby during your pregnancy.

In the United States, there are different laws for medicines and for dietary supplements. The part of the FDA that controls dietary supplements is the same part that controls foods sold in the United States. Only dietary supplements containing new dietary ingredients that were not marketed before October 15, 1994, submit safety information for review by the FDA. However, unlike medicines, herbal remedies and "natural products" are not approved by the FDA for safety or for what they say they will do. Most have not even been evaluated for their potential to cause harm to you or the growing fetus, let alone shown to be safe for use in pregnancy. Before a company can sell a medicine, the company must complete many studies and send the results to the FDA. Many scientists and doctors at the FDA check the study results. The FDA allows the medicine to be sold only if the studies show that the medicine works and is safe to use.

In the future, will there be better ways to know if medicines are safe to use during pregnancy?

At this time, drugs are rarely tested for safety in pregnant women for fear of harming the unborn baby. Until this changes, pregnancy exposure registries help doctors and researchers learn how medicines affect pregnant mothers and their growing baby. A pregnancy exposure registry is a study that enrolls pregnant women who are using a certain medicine. The women sign up for the study while pregnant and are followed for a certain length of time after the baby is born. Researchers compare babies with mothers who used the medicine while pregnant to babies with mothers who did not use the medicine. This type of study compares large groups of pregnant mothers and babies to look for medicine effects. A woman and her doctor can use registry results to make more informed choices about using medicine while pregnant.

If you are pregnant and are using a medicine or were using one when you got pregnant, check to see if there is a pregnancy exposure registry for that medicine. The Food and Drug Administration has a list of pregnancy exposure registries (http://www.fda.gov/womens/registries/default.htm) that pregnant women can join.


Patient Comments

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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?

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