7 Drugs Safe to Use In Pregnancy

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During pregnancy, the growth of the foetus largely depends on the health of the mother.

As such, drugs are used if expected benefits to the mother are thought to be greater than the risk to the foetus.

ALL DRUGS SHOULD BE AVOIDED IF POSSIBLE DURING THE FIRST TRIMESTER (3months).

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Check out a list of 7drugs that has been found not to be harmful in pregnancy.

PARACETAMOL

If you are having pains (e.g headache) or fever during pregnancy, paracetamol (acetaminophen) is the drug of choice. Paracetamol has been around for some time and has been established to be safe at every stage of pregnancy. However, ensure not to take beyond the therapeutic dosage. Two tablets of 500mg paracetamol can be taken up to (not more than) four times a day (every 6hours) after meal.

Do not take more than two tablets per time! Overdose of paracetamol can lead to severe liver damage. Women are advised to avoid paracetamol preparations with multiple components.

FOLIC ACID

Folic acid tablets are totally safe in pregnancy. Folic acid supplements taken before and during pregnancy can reduce the occurrence of neural tube defects (birth defects of the brain, spine, or spinal cord). The risk of neural tube defects occurring in a baby varies.

Women at low risk of conceiving a child with such defects are advised to take folic acid supplement at a dose of 400 micrograms daily before conception and until week 12 of pregnancy.

Women at high risk (couples with family history of neural tube defects, women with coeliac disease, diabetes mellitus, sickle cell anaemia, or taking anti-epileptic drug) are advised to take folic acid supplement at 5mg daily dose till week 12 of pregnancy.

Women with sickle cell disease should continue their normal folic acid dose throughout the pregnancy.

PROMETHAZINE

Most women experience nausea in the first three months of pregnancy, though usually mild and may not require drug therapy. However, on rare occasions if vomiting is severe, short-term treatment with an antiemetic like promethazine may be required. Promethazine has been found to be safe in pregnancy. It also has sedative effect which I believe is a plus. If symptoms does not subside in two days, kindly visit the nearest hospital to you. Other antiemetic safe in pregnancy include: metoclopramide and prochlorperazine.

ARTEMETHER/LUMEFANTRINE

This is an Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) indicated in the treatment of uncomplicated malaria. In a malaria endemic environment, the probability that a woman won’t be infected with malaria parasites within the 9months period of pregnancy is very thin.

Generally, pregnant women are more susceptible to malaria. Intermittent preventive therapy (IPT) is strongly recommended during the second and third trimester.

Should you come down with full blown malaria symptoms, artemether/ lumefantrine tablets are safe from 2nd trimester upward. Please note that they should not be taken in the first three months and best taken with fatty meal.

SALBUTAMOL

For the asthmatics, salbutamol is an essential drug. An uncontrolled asthma can have very harmful effects on the growing foetus. Salbutamol inhaler has not been found to be harmful for pregnant women. However caution must be taken with other routes of administration. High doses preferably should be given by inhalation only.

INSULIN

Insulin is a life saver for patients with high blood sugar. Other anti-diabetics are contraindicated in pregnancy but insulin has been found to be safe at all stages of pregnancy. It helps to control the blood sugar level without crossing the placenta keeping the baby intact.

METHYLDOPA

Methyldopa is a centrally acting antihypertensive agent. It’s one of the drugs of choice in hypertension management during pregnancy. It is best taken before meals.

If you are hypertensive and preparing for conception, your doctor will probably switch you to methyldopa or recommend it if you come down with pregnancy induced hypertension.

Do not discontinue the drug abruptly as this may cause headache, insomnia, tremors, nausea, sweating and raised blood pressure. Always consult your doctor or pharmacist before making any change in your medication.

 

Reference:

EMDEX Vol 1: June 2016 – May 2017 Edition

The Merck Manual, Nineteenth Edition

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