One of the most common questions I get asked in my pharmacy by expectant mums, is whether or not certain medications are safe for them to take. Paracetamol is commonly the drug of choice for people for all sorts of pain and also fever, this is why I will focus on it today. I will continue to update www.wonderbaba.ie with more information on other medicines.
A little side note!
Before I start, it is important to say that while pregnant, it is best to work off the ethos of less is better. Ideally you are only taking medications when absolutely needed, but in real life things like sore throats and severe dental pain happen, and nobody expects you to suffer through pain when there is no need to. In fact, it’s always been a view of mine that a happy mum is a healthier mum, so really with a bit of information and balance, I feel a safe compromise is possible. It is also important to note that while I am saying ‘less is more’ there are times where it is extremely important to take medicines consistently, this includes medications prescribed by your doctor (please let them know you are pregnant), which are deemed safe during pregnancy, and it would actually be detrimental and harmful to you as a mother, and to your unborn baby, to stop taking them. Examples of this include antibiotics, antidepressants, medicines for long term conditions like diabetes, epilepsy, cardiac conditions and so so much more! Once your GP is aware they are prescribing for a pregnant patient they can tailor your treatment plan to ensure safety of you and your baby and if you are in any doubt you can ask your Pharmacist (or me!) to check for additional peace of mind.
Right, back to paracetamol!!
Paracetamol is deemed to be safe in pregnancy when used for short periods of time. It is advisable only to take it when genuinely needed, for fever or pain relief. If you need to take it ongoing it is best to discuss this with your GP to assess the benefits over the risks.
The risks with long term paracetamol consumption during pregnancy, for several weeks or more at full daily dosing (two 500mg tablets four times daily) are constantly being assessed and it was once thought definitely safe. There is some data that associates LONG TERM use by a mother during pregnancy with cryptorchidism (a condition in which one or both of the testes fail to descend from the abdomen into the scrotum), decreased IQ, ADHD, and other problems in neurodevelopment. It’s really important to say here that the risk of these issues is very low, but I would be remiss not to mention them. It is also really important to say that if your doctor decides the benefits outweigh the risks for you, based on your medical situation, then it is important to trust you doctor. These risks were not linked with short term use. Ignoring a high fever or severe pain would be worse for maternal and infant health than taking a couple of paracetamol 500mg up to four times daily for a few days.
The reason the information is always being updated is that pregnant women are rarely included in pre-clinical trials and so information always need to be gathered and assessed by the relevant medical agencies to ensure we are using all of the up to date information gathered to best guide patients on their medication choices. It is clear that short term Paracetamol consumption which is not frequent is safe in pregnancy, long term use should be discussed with your medical practitioner.
www.wonderbaba.ie is my website, where we are registered as an online retailer of medicines in Ireland with The Pharmaceutical Society. You can order any medicines you need from us online and have them delivered to your door!