You can cure yourself during pregnancy. Indeed, according to the Italian Medicines Agency it is necessary, but it is necessary to carefully choose the drugs to be taken
Medicines in pregnancy
A strong prejudice weighs heavily on the use of drugs during pregnancy: there are still many women who think they cannot take medicines during the nine months of gestation due to the possible negative effects on the baby. The equation pregnancy = no drugs it is widespread, but this is not exactly the case. There are some medicines that actually involve gods risks for the unborn child, but there are also drugs that, used in the correct doses and times, do not involve risks and others that involve lower risks than those caused by not being treated.
In this article, thanks to the invaluable contribution of Prof. Elisabetta Poluzzi, Professor of Pharmacology at the Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences of the University of Bologna, we will see in detail which are the safest drugs and which ones to avoid during pregnancy to protect the health of mother and baby.
In this article
Medicines in pregnancy, what do we know so far?
Today we know that most drugs are able to cross the placenta and reach the fetus or embryo, but fortunately only a small percentage of them can determine malformations or alter the normal development of the unborn child and, generally, these are medicines used for chronic or long-term therapies. Nevertheless, as also indicated in the Guidelines for physiological pregnancy of the Ministry of Health, it is still necessary to always be very cautious when using drugs (but also “natural” herbal products) during pregnancy to prevent the fetus from suffering damage.
“Before defining a safe drug for pregnant women, we need the drug itself to age a bit on the market – says Prof. Poluzzi – this is because during the clinical trial which is performed before a medicine is placed on the market, pregnant women are excluded for an ethical reason. “This is why pregnant women are advised to treat themselves with drugs that have been on the market for many years and of which they know the benefits and also the possible risks for the unborn child.
Medicines not to be taken during pregnancy, if possible
Let’s now look at some of the most used drugs they can produce negative effects on the health of the fetus and therefore should, if possible and if advised by your doctor, be suspended during pregnancy.
This is the name of the active ingredient in some medications used for the treatment of severe acne. Isotretinoin is a derivative of vitamin A strongly teratogenic, that is, capable of causing fetal malformations. “IS absolutely contraindicated in pregnancy and when a woman of childbearing age wants to take this drug she must sign an informed consent in which she undertakes to protect herself from a possible pregnancy precisely because of the possible malformations “says Prof. Poluzzi.
Antiepileptics (valproic acid)
Some antiepileptics can be harmful to the fetus, among them valproic acid is the best known antiepileptic for its negative effects. “Valproic acid is only one of the many drugs available for epilepsy so, generally, the doctor will advise the patient to try some safer alternatives for women of childbearing age and for those already pregnant “, explains Poluzzi. If, on the other hand, the crises cannot be controlled with alternative drugs, then it is necessary to continue with valproic acid.
Dicumarin anticoagulants (Warfarin and derivatives)
If used in the early part of pregnancy they could provoke facial malformations and mental retardation, while if taken towards the end of gestation they can increase the risk of bleeding.
“It may happen that some young women may have had deep vein thrombosis or other thromboembolic events and therefore need treatment with anticoagulants. In these cases the doctor decides together with the woman whether to treat the problem with daily injections of heparin, which is unable to cross the placenta, so as to protect both the health of the woman and the fetus “.
The tetracyclines are antibacterial used for various types of infections, but are, thankfully, little used today. “Tetracyclines are dangerous in pregnancy because they bind to calcium and can compromise the growth of tissues that depend on it, such as teeth” – explains Prof. Poluzzi – “In case of infection during pregnancy, therefore, it is better to start with drugs less risky like amoxicillin, provided that it is a sensitive infection to it and that the woman is not allergic, and in case of extreme necessity, use tetracyclines “.
Aspirin, ibuprofen, and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
NSAIDs are commonly used drugs and are not considered particularly risky in pregnancy, but as we will see later, in case of pain it is always preferable to choose paracetamol. “NSAIDs would go though avoided close to childbirth because it could alter its evolution. The mechanism of action of NSAIDs inhibits the action of prostaglandins, hormones that stimulate labor, resulting in a prolongation of pregnancy or a longer duration of labor. NSAIDs also increase the risk of bleeding for women and this …