How Do Ob-Gyns Decide Which Medications Are OK For Pregnancy?

Sep 26, 2014

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What other medications are safe during pregnancy and which ones should moms-to-be avoid?

Sound Medicine's Jill Ditmire put that question to ob-gyn Dr. Chemen Tate.

Interview highlights

Ditmire: The CDC says that about 90 percent of women are taking some sort of a medication when they are pregnant. And about 70 percent of women are taking a prescription medication when they are pregnant. And we know that about 50 percent of pregnancies happen and women don't even realize they are pregnant. So at what point should a woman start talking with her ob-gyn about the medications she is taking? Before she gets pregnant? When she finds out she's pregnant? 

Dr. Chemen Tate: The best time is definitely before she becomes pregnant. If you are taking a prescription medication for a medical condition, you should meet with an ob-gyn doctor before you start trying for pregnancy. Medications and pregnancy are very complicated. It's not a very straight forward thing where a medication will always cause harm. The effects of medication in pregnancy can be dependent on how far along you are. Some medications are safe in the end of pregnancy, but not in the beginning of pregnancy. Some you can take in the middle, but not at the end or the beginning. It's very complicated. Also, some people don't think about the effects of stopping a medication when they do become pregnant. Some medical conditions are more harmful if they are not managed correctly to the pregnancy. You should always speak with an ob-gyn before you become pregnant. But in the event that you become pregnant before you were able to talk about medical conditions or medications that you're taking, you should not stop or start taking any kind of medication before you meet with your doctor. 

Ditmire: Do certain drugs have certain effects on the different trimesters of pregnancy? 

Dr. Chemen Tate: Yes, some drugs affect the first trimester of pregnancy, where the organs are being developed. So, the brain is being developed; the liver and all of these different things are being developed in the very early parts of pregnancy. And before you even know you're pregnant, the fetus is developing so that would be five weeks from the first day of your last period when many people don't even have a positive pregnancy test. 

Dr. Tate is an assistant professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine. She also practices as an ob-gyn at IU Health and Eskenazi Health.