Navigation Links
Planning Pregnancy May Cut Birth Defects
Date:4/8/2012

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, April 6 (HealthDay News) -- Women who'd like to become pregnant -- especially those who are taking medications for chronic conditions -- may need to add something to their to-do list: Plan, plan, plan.

That's because some medications are known to cause birth defects. Avoiding all medications during pregnancy is not always possible, however, and sometimes not taking a prescribed medication could be harmful, too.

"The best thing for women to do, all women, is to plan their pregnancy," said Dr. Diane Ashton, deputy medical director for the March of Dimes. "Women should speak with their physician about their plans to become pregnant. If they have a condition that requires medication, that's an ideal time to switch to medications that have less risk, if necessary. And, it gives time for the condition to be stabilized."

About 120,000 babies born each year in the United States -- or about one of every 33 -- are born with a birth defect, something abnormal that occurs in a baby's development, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some are more cosmetic than dangerous, such as an extra toe, but others are serious and include heart defects and spina bifida. Birth defects are the leading cause of death in babies younger than 1 year, according to the National Birth Defects Prevention Network.

Most birth defects happen in the early stages of pregnancy, often before a woman even knows she's pregnant, according to the CDC.

That's why it's important for women who are using potentially dangerous medications -- such as retinoic acid treatments for acne -- to plan a pregnancy and, Ashton said, to use contraception while they're on those drugs.

Dr. Deborah Campbell, director of neonatology at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, concurred.

"The most dangerous time is the first trimester, especially between weeks three and eight, because that's when all of the organs are forming," Campbell said. "And, half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are still unplanned so women may not even know they're pregnant at this crucial time. We can't overemphasize enough the importance of planning your pregnancy."

Women with diabetes, women at risk for diabetes and women who have high blood pressure, seizure disorders, depression or autoimmune diseases who are on medications need to review these medications with their obstetricians, Campbell said.

"Where at all possible, switch to medications that are the least likely to cause birth defects," she suggested. "If medications can't be stopped, the pregnancy can be more closely monitored. What's important is that the mother is in the best shape possible. For example, you can't just stop seizure medications. A woman who's having seizures poses a risk to her fetus. It's important to weigh the relative risks and benefits with your obstetric care provider."

What are the risks? As Ashton explained:

  • Drugs that affect women's hormones can cause their babies to be born with problems with their genitalia.
  • Certain anti-seizure medications can cause heart defects, spina bifida and cleft lip.
  • Retinoic acid has been associated with a host of birth defects, including malformations of the face, heart and brain.
  • Some antidepressants have been linked to heart defects.
  • Cancer-fighting drugs, which target rapidly dividing cells, pose a significant risk for miscarriage as well as the potential for central nervous system and brain defects.

But, as scary as all that sounds, Ashton said, it's important to remember that even with exposure to drugs known to cause birth defects, most women will have a normal baby.

Still, medical experts agree that it's best to avoid medication exposure as much as possible during pregnancy.

"Anything you're going to take during pregnancy, you should check with your doctor," advised Campbell.

The warning applies to more than prescription drugs, too -- including all over-the-counter medications as well as herbs and dietary supplements.

"People assume because you can buy something over-the-counter that it's safe and you don't have to worry about it," Campbell said. "But there are some herbal preparations that can be a risk for infants, and there may be adulterants in the product. These may not cause birth defects, per se, but could cause neurologic changes that could cause irritability and behavior problems."

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more on birth defects.

For more on preventing birth defects, read about one woman's efforts to manage medications and pregnancy.

SOURCES: Deborah Campbell, M.D., director, division of neonatology, Montefiore Medical Center, New York City, Diane Ashton, M.D., deputy medical director, March of Dimes, White Plains, N.Y.


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Senior citizens as co-researchers to improve urban planning
2. NYU study finds congestion pricing works best when partnered with land-use planning
3. Long-term effectiveness of new family planning method shown in study
4. Planning Ahead Can Reduce Back-to-School Stress
5. Family planning in conflict
6. 3-D printing technology from CT images may be used effectively for neurosurgical planning
7. Poor park planning drives kids indoors
8. Family planning programs have success in developing countries, but need to be expanded
9. Financial planning a key but neglected component of Alzheimers care, say researchers
10. With proper planning, selective rather than mass vaccination can provide immunity against flu
11. iCycleBeads: New iPhone application for planning and avoiding pregnancy
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Planning Pregnancy May Cut Birth Defects
(Date:2/11/2016)... ... ... Image One USA veteran franchise owner Maria Bogacki is bringing ... Nashville that will benefit. , “I’ve enjoyed being a part of the Image One ... question that I would bring my business with me,” Bogacki said. “The entire Image ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... ... February 11, 2016 , ... The ... among the top five firms in the “2015/2016 Best in KLAS: Software and ... Staffing. KLAS is a research and insights firm on a global mission to ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... FL (PRWEB) , ... February 11, 2016 , ... ... and advocates will discuss how to improve care by making data on heart ... heart disease. The Summit on Transparency and Public Reporting of Pediatric and Congenital ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... ... February 11, 2016 , ... ... Surgery, Dallas plastic surgeon , Dr. Rod J. Rohrich, and colleagues, examine ... Dr. Rohrich outlines recommendations for rhinoplasty surgeons when addressing this vital area. , ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... ... February 11, 2016 , ... veEDIS Clinical ... technology, with highly adaptable algorithms, has been updated to help Emergency Department physicians ... symptoms consistent with Zikas and a travel history to affected regions, or potential ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/11/2016)... 2016 Potrero Medical, Inc., the developer of the ... appointment of George M. Rapier, III , MD, to ... , WellMed is one of the nation,s largest physician ... members in Texas and ... his own internal medicine practice, he has been instrumental to ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... AAIPharma Services Corp./Cambridge Major Laboratories, Inc. ... development services for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, ... in its Charleston, SC ... recent investments. Charleston ... with small-scale lyophilization. The site has invested in ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... SEOUL, South Korea , Feb. 11, 2016 Wearable posture tracker, ALEX , has ... project fully funded and just seven days left to go, ALEX is said to be delivered to ... http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160211/332248 ... ... ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: