I have been receiving requests for information regarding the safety of various
drugs in pregnancy and lactation. First of all, medications are grouped into 1
of 5 categories based on the potential for producing birth defects. The
categories are A, B, C, D and X. Generally speaking, drugs that fall into
either class A or B are considered safe and are routinely used. There may be
Category A: Controlled studies in pregnant women fail to demonstrate
a risk to the fetus in the first trimester with no evidence of risk in later
trimesters. The possibility of harm appears remote.
Category B: Presumed safety based on animal studies, with no controlled studies
in pregnant women, or animal studies have shown an adverse effect that was not
confirmed in controlled studies in women in the first trimester and there is no
evidence of a risk in later trimesters.
Category C: Studies in women and animals are not available or studies in
animals have revealed adverse effects on the fetus and there are no controlled
studies in women. Drugs should be given only if the potential benefits justify
the potential risk to the fetus.
Category D: There is positive evidence of human fetal risk (unsafe), however in
some cases such as a life-threatening illness the potential risk may be
justified if there are no other alternatives.
Category X: Highly unsafe: risk of use outweighs any potential benefit. Drugs in
this category are contraindicated in women who are or may become pregnant.
This is an abbreviated list of medications that are usually considered safe
during pregnancy. Always consult your health care provider before taking any
medication. A comprehensive reference can be found by
clicking on the image
found below this table. Once you reach this site, select a drug from the
drop-down list and then hit search. This reference will list not only the
pregnancy category listed above, but also whether or not the drug is safe when
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