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:4/30/2016)... ... April 30, 2016 , ... Saturday, April ... veterinarians’ global impact on public health. The World Veterinary Association (WVA) and the ... year have selected continuing education with a One Health focus, which emphasizes how ...
(Date:4/30/2016)... ... April 30, 2016 , ... Orlando-based Maximized Living has selected Dr. Nick ... in Rio. Under the care of Maximized Living doctors at the London Olympics ... showing, Maximized Living is sending the largest contingent of elite chiropractors to Rio to ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... , ... April 29, 2016 , ... ... Ten Footwear Foundation, the national charitable foundation serving the footwear industry, has broken ... volunteers representing more than 130 companies across 23 states during the months of ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... April 29, 2016 , ... On Tuesday, ... hospitals across the Southeast, celebrated the signature of Gov. Nathan Deal on SB 258, ... Geoff Duncan (R - Cumming), offers a 70% tax credit to individuals and corporations ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... ... April 29, 2016 , ... Conditions were ideal for Global ... Park on Sunday, with sunny skies, a light breeze and temperatures in the 60s. ... , The 5k Run and Walk and 1-mile walk were held to increase ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:4/29/2016)... , April 29, 2016 ... Life Sciences, Product Development Capabilities in ... Customer Base . Indegene ( ... announced the acquisition of Skura Corporation,s life science ... in adaptive sales enablement technology for life science ...
(Date:4/29/2016)... April 29, 2016 Automation is ... laboratory due to the growing demands for productivity in ... contemporary automated systems are already adept of a wide ... tedious and manual labor. Instrumentation continues to evolve, and ... conceivable just a few years ago. Originally used mostly ...
(Date:4/28/2016)... 2016 Research and Markets has ... Products Market 2016-2020" report to their offering. ... The global plastic surgery products market is expected ... period 2016-2020. , ,The growing adoption of laser in ... of the market. Lasers are used to treat a ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: