Women's Health
Drug Categories in Pregnancy

​​Overview:

To take medicine during pregnancy has always been a source of concern for both the pregnant woman and the doctor. Yet, taking medicines may be necessary, especially in cases where the pregnant woman suffers such diseases as diabetes, epilepsy, depression, anxiety, and so forth. Pregnant women may also take certain medications to address some of the common pregnancy-associated medical conditions (e.g. stomach burning, morning nausea, headache, etc). Most often than not, there are multiple alternatives for treating the same medical condition, which allows the doctor to prescribe alternatives that would reduce the risk posed to the fetus.

Drug categories in pregnancy: 
It is essential for pregnant women to be aware of the drug pregnancy categories; they determine the level of safety/ risk of drugs. To that end, the drugs used during pregnancy are classified into five categories, as follows:
  • Category A: Adequate and well-controlled studies have failed to demonstrate any risk related to the drugs falling under this category; they are totally safe for both the mother and the baby. 
  • Category B: Animal studies have revealed no evidence of harm to the fetus. However, there are no adequate and well-controlled clinical studies in pregnant women. OR Animal studies have shown an adverse effect, but adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women have failed to demonstrate a risk to humans.
  • Category C: Animal studies have shown an adverse effect and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. OR No animal studies have been conducted and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women. The medicines of this category should not be used by a pregnant woman unless the anticipated benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.
  • Category D: Adequate well-controlled or observational studies in pregnant women have demonstrated a risk to the fetus. However, the benefits of therapy may outweigh the potential risk.
  • Category X: Adequate well-controlled or observational studies in animals or pregnant women have demonstrated positive evidence of fetal abnormalities or risks. The use of the product is contraindicated in women who are or may become pregnant. 
Remember: Category C is a confusing category. A medicine shall fall under this category if there is no sufficient information about using it in pregnancy. In other words, it can be safe, and can equally be harmful.

Recommendations:
Don’t take, or stop taking, a medicine unless under medical supervision. There are certain steps which you can follow to determine which medicines are appropriate, including the following:
  • Always ask for the doctor’s advice—it’s the first and foremost step;
  • Read the label and medicine leaflet, and look for the pregnancy warnings; Check if the medicine can potentially trigger an allergic response, and check the expiry date;
  • Pay attention to the potential side effects, and discuss them with the healthcare provider or pharmacist, since some medications cause side effects such as sleepiness, headache, vomiting, etc.
  • Be organized in taking medicines, and don’t confuse them with one another, to avoid taking an overdose;
  • Take medicines in the manner prescribed by the healthcare provider;
  • Don’t share medicines with others;
  • Ask how safe the medicine is for the baby, and ask about the medicine name, as well as its available alternatives, benefits, potential risks, and the side effects to be observed;
  • Keep a record of the medicines you take.

Clinical Education General Department
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Last Update : 05 August 2021 04:09 PM
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