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Use of Medicines and their Effects During Pregnancy

Parents usually have many questions in their minds during pregnancy. One of these questions is the use of medication during pregnancy and the negative effects it may have on the mother and baby.

In cases where the mother has a past illness during pregnancy or when she has a discomfort that occurs during pregnancy, various medications can be used as a necessity. However, the most important issue regarding medicine use during pregnancy is that the rules should be followed carefully. Apart from supplements such as calcium, iron, or folic acid, which are needed by the mother and used under the supervision of a physician, medicines should not be used as much as possible. Considering the indications that the medicines used may have negative effects on the organs of the baby developing in the womb in some cases, medicines should not be taken unless it is mandatory and without the doctor's follow-up and knowledge.

Studies have shown that the side effects of the medicine are not only transmitted from the mother to the baby but also that the medicines taken by the father-to-be can have effects on the baby, and the medicines used directly affect the sperm.

Possible Effects of Medication Use During Pregnancy on the Baby

It has been determined that approximately 2% to 4% of birth-related disabilities occur due to medicines used during pregnancy or toxic substances. After the mother takes the medicine, the active substance of the medicine mixes with her blood and can pass to the baby through the umbilical cord/placenta. However, the effects of medicines on babies vary depending on the type and amount of medicine used and the developmental process of the baby.


Image 1: Use of medicines during pregnancy.


If the expectant mother used the medicine in a very early period of pregnancy, that is, within the first two weeks after embryo formation, the "all or nothing" rule comes into play in most cases. This period can be roughly expressed as before the menstrual delay is observed. The medicine taken during this period may not have any effect on the developing embryo, and if it is affected, it may cause a miscarriage.

The period in which babies developing in the womb are most sensitive to medicine intake is usually 17-90 days after pregnancy is observed and is also called the teratogenic period. This period begins immediately after the missed period and continues until the 12th week of pregnancy. The main point that makes this period important is that the baby is hypersensitive to every substance taken by the mother, and it is the sensitive period in which the baby's organ formation occurs. Observing the harmful effects of the medicine used in newly developing organs may result in congenital anomalies. Even if the medicines used after the 12th week do not cause a direct problem, they may affect the functioning of the baby's organs and cause effects that will disrupt the baby's development. The golden rule of this period is not to use medicines except in compulsory situations. However, it should not create the perception that the medicine can be used in the next period. Medicines in every period of pregnancy can be harmful, and this may vary from medicine to medicine.

Medicine Categories in Pregnancy

To determine the effects of medicines taken during pregnancy on pregnancy, we have data from various experimental studies in animals and humans. According to the studies conducted, medicines are divided into five groups by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) according to their effects on pregnancy, and this classification often helps obstetricians and perinatology physicians. In addition, there are special scientific sites that provide the most up-to-date data on the safety/possible risks of medicines in pregnancy and breastfeeding. The groups created by the FDA are listed as follows:

  • Group A Medicines: According to studies on humans, it has been observed that there is no harm to the baby.
  • Group B Medicines: Medicines in this group have been tested on animals and have been found to be harmless to the baby but have not been studied on humans or pose a risk in animals but have no risk in studies conducted with humans. These medicines are medicines that do not contain very serious risks.
  • Group C Medicines: Studies have identified risks in animals, but no studies have been conducted in humans.
  • Group D Medicines: As a result of studies on humans, it has been observed that they pose a high risk and are defined as medicines that should not be used during pregnancy unless necessary. These medicines can be used in a controlled manner in some situations that may threaten the life of the mother.
  • X Group Medicines: Medicines that should not be used during pregnancy are in this group. Such medicines do more harm than good.

It can be concluded that group A and B medicines can be used during pregnancy. Medicines in group C can be used if the benefit is greater than the harm according to the course of the pregnancy and the disease, and the use of medicines is necessary. Medicines in groups D and X should not be used unless there is a vital condition. Medicine used during pregnancy must be used under the control of a doctor, regardless of the group used, because the returns of each birth parent and discomfort may be different.

Disorders That Require Medication During Pregnancy

The most common conditions that require the use of medication during pregnancy can be listed as follows:

  • Vaginal discharges
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Troubles in the respiratory system
  • Digestive system disorders
  • Urinary tract infections

During pregnancy, medicines should never be used without the knowledge and control of the doctor. When the information given above is summarized, every medicine used will be transferred to the baby through the umbilical cord/placenta and may have consequences on the development of the baby. This process can have effects during pregnancy as well as at any stage of life after birth. There are medicines suitable for use during pregnancy according to the type of disease. However, it should be used under the supervision of a doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does taking medication during pregnancy harm the baby?
Medication should not be used during pregnancy unless it is necessary and without the advice of a doctor. Medications may have more negative effects, especially during organ development. Your doctor will make the best decision.
Are all medicines harmful?
Medicines are categorized by the FDA. There is a suitable medicine for every ailment during pregnancy. Your doctor will decide on the most appropriate medicine.
Use of Medicines and their Effects During Pregnancy
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