Dangerous Drugs for Baby During Pregnancy

There are many drugs that can be dangerous for the baby if taken by the mother during pregnancy. Drugs that are dangerous for the baby if taken during pregnancy are called teratogenic. They are referred to as teratogens.

A teratogen is an agent that can disturb the development of the embryo or fetus. Teratogens halt the pregnancy or produce a congenital malformation (a birth defect). Classes of teratogens include radiation, maternal infections, chemicals, and drugs.

Drugs that are capable of acting as teratogens include:

  • ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors such as:
  • Acne medication isotretinoin (Accutane, Retin-A)
  • Alcohol -- increases the risk of a stillbirth and the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
  • Androgens (male hormones)
  • Antibiotics tetracycline (Achromycin), and doxycycline (Vibramycin), metronidazole (Flagyl), and streptomycin
  • Anticoagulant (blood-thinner) warfarin (Coumadin)
  • Anticonvulsants (seizure medications) such as:
    • phenytoin (Dilatin)
    • valproic acid (Depakene, Valprotate),
    • trimethadione (Tridione)
    • paramethadione (Paradione)
    • carbamazepine (Tegretol)
  • Anti-depressant drug lithium (Eskalith, Lithob).
  • Antimetabolite/anticancer drugs methotrexate (Rheumatrex) and aminopterin
  • Antirheumatic agent and metal-binder (chelator) penicillamine (Ciprimene, Depen)
  • Antithyroid drugs such as:
    • thiouracil/propylthiouracil and
    • carbimazole/methimazole
  • Cocaine
  • DES (diethylstilbestrol), a hormone
  • Thalidomide (Thalomid) which was approved by the FDA for the treatment of a complication of leprosy (erythema nodosum leprosum)

For more on pregnancy, please visit the Pregnancy Planning Center.


Last Editorial Review: 7/7/2004