Despite incredible advances in medicine, one segment of the population has not been intensely studied: pregnant women. While much is known about how to care for a pregnant woman, very little is known about how medications affect unborn children. Despite a wide knowledge gap, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 70% of pregnant women take at least one prescription medication during pregnancy.
For pregnant women considering taking prescription medications, there are several things to understand. Because very little is known about how medications work differently in pregnant women, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies medications into five different categories based on what clinical evidence suggests about their safety.
The FDA only classifies a dozen prescription medications as completely safe for use by pregnant women. While many medications are determined to be reasonably safe, the reality is there is a shortage on clinical data.
To determine if pregnant women can safely take a medication, the FDA looks at both clinical trials in humans and in animals. Unfortunately, there are serious limitations when looking at clinical trials in humans because pregnant woman are mostly excluded from clinical trials.
What Could Happen?
The two most common occurrences when pregnant women take prescription medication are the medication is ineffective or the medication causes birth defects. Both scenarios can be extremely dangerous and threaten the life of both the mother and the baby. Children born with birth defects often require a lifetime of care, extensive medical treatment, and special education for development.
Because of the serious side effects prescription medication can have on both mother and child, it’s crucial that drug companies provide consumers with all available information about the safety and risks associated with their drugs. This allows patients and their doctors to make informed decisions about whether prescription drugs are safe during pregnancy.
Dangerous Prescription Drugs
From antidepressants to anti-seizure medication, many drugs have proven harmful to pregnant women and their babies. Unfortunately, there are an even greater number of drugs whose dangerous side effects to pregnant mothers and unborn babies are yet unknown. When a child suffers birth defects as a result of a medication taken by its mother during pregnancy, families have a legal right to seek compensation.