Posts Tagged ‘teratogen’

Pills and pregnancy – what’s safe and what’s not

Friday, January 18th, 2013

pillsYou may have been taking meds for a chronic condition for years. Some are fine to continue during pregnancy and some won’t be safe for a developing baby. It’s important to check with your doc before you conceive, if you’re planning ahead, so that you can be shifted to a safer alternative, if necessary.

But let’s face it, more than half of all pregnancies are not planned. Once you find out, you may have questions about your meds during pregnancy.  So how do you know if what you’re taking is still OK? The most important thing is to talk with your health care provider. He/she knows you and your medical history best and can make whatever adjustments are best for you. Don’t stop taking your medication, however, without your doc’s knowledge.

In the meantime, there is an excellent organization that can help give you valuable information about the safety of medications during pregnancy. The Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS) is a group of highly trained professionals who are dedicated to providing accurate evidence-based, clinical information to patients and health care professionals about medications (prescription or over-the-counter), vaccines, chemical and other exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding.  They can tell you whether a mother’s exposure might be harmful to her baby. Their toll-free number is 866-626-6847 and calls are kept anonymous and confidential. You can read a number of their fact sheets at this link.

Fluconazole and yeast infection

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Fluconazole (trade name Diflucan) is an antifungal medication used to treat different infections. It is most commonly taken in pill form and is often used to treat yeast infections (candidiasis) when topical creams are’nt getting the job done. It has been used for over 25 years in the U.S.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) informed the public that chronic, high doses (400-800 mg/day) of fluconazole may be associated with a rare and distinct set of birth defects in babies whose mothers were treated with the drug during the first trimester of pregnancy. This risk, however, does not appear to be associated with a single, low dose of fluconazole (150 mg) to treat vaginal yeast infection. 

There are several published case reports of birth defects in infants whose mothers were treated with high-dose fluconazole (400-800 mg/day) for serious and life-threatening fungal infections during most or all of the first trimester. Based on this information, the pregnancy category for fluconazole indications (other than vaginal yeast infection) has been changed from category C to category D.  Pregnancy category D means there is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on human data but the potential benefits from use of the drug in pregnant women with serious or life-threatening conditions may be acceptable despite its risks.

Again, a single dose (150 mg) of fluconazole to treat a yeast infection during early pregnancy does not appear to increase risks to a developing baby. The use of high dose fluconazole for many weeks, however, may increase the risk of having a baby with a specific pattern of birth defects. Speak with your health care provider if you have any questions or concerns about using this medication.

Radiation concerns

Monday, March 28th, 2011

We have received several questions from people, especially pregnant women, along the west coast of the U.S. about possible negative effects that might result from any radiation coming from the disaster in Japan.  Our March of Dimes California Chapter has compiled links to great information, which we offer here.

 

If you are concerned about radiation exposures, you can find the latest information and resources at the links below, which are being updated regularly as the situation in Japan unfolds.

These websites are listed for information only and are not intended to be a comprehensive list of all resources on this issue.

California Teratogen Information Service
Toll free helpline: 1800 532 3749
Website:
http://www.mothertobabyca.org/       

California Department of Public Health
Radiation exposure information line: (916) 341-3947
Website:
http://www.cdph.ca.gov/
Radiation Frequently Asked Questions:
http://cdph.ca.gov/Pages/RadiationFAQS2011.aspx

Centers for Disease Control / US Department of Health & Human Services:
http://www.hhs.gov/response/2011tsunami/index.html

Health Physics Society
Radiation exposure information (includes information on radiation exposure during pregnancy):
http://www.hps.org/fukushima/

Top preventable birth defects

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

January is National Birth Defects Prevention month.  We posted earlier on the importance of taking folic acid before and during pregnancy to help prevent birth defects of the brain and spine.

The Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS) is a group of highly trained professionals who are dedicated to providing accurate evidence-based, clinical information to patients and health care professionals about medications (prescription or over-the-counter), vaccines, chemical and other exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding.  They tell you whether a mother’s exposure to something might be harmful to her baby.

In honor of National Birth Defects Prevention Month, OTIS counselors are stepping up efforts to help educate the public. Counselors, who provide women answers to questions about specific exposures during pregnancy and lactation through a toll-free hotline, (866) 626-6847, and website, www.mothertobaby.org, have compiled a list of a few of the preventable causes of some of the most common birth defects.  Click on this link to read their information.

Birth defects prevention

Friday, January 7th, 2011

January 2011 is National Birth Defects Prevention Month.  This year’s theme is Medication Use Before, During, and After Pregnancy.

While most birth defects cannot be prevented because their causes are not known, women can take a number of steps before and during pregnancy to reduce their risk. These steps include taking a multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of folic acid daily starting before pregnancy and in early pregnancy. This helps to prevent serious birth defects of the brain and spinal cord, including spina bifida, and may also help prevent heart defects. Another step is getting a pre-pregnancy check up and making sure that the medications you are taking are safe to use during pregnancy.

Talk with your health care provider and pharmacist about your medications.  For the most current information about medications (prescription or over-the-counter), drugs, vaccines, chemical or environmental agents and their potential risks, we suggest that you contact a Teratology Information Service (TIS).  A teratogen is any agent or substance that can affect fetal development.  To answer questions properly, it is sometimes necessary to know how far along in her pregnancy a woman was when she came in contact with the substance, what medications she was taking at the time, some of her medical history, etc.  Trained professionals in the field of teratogens can answer your specific questions while maintaining your anonymity. They also can tell you if a medication is safe to use while breastfeeding. The national toll-free phone number to call is 866-626-6847.

Paternal exposures – can they harm a future baby?

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

man-paintingYes, some can. A paternal exposure is something the father of a baby is exposed to before conception or during his partner’s pregnancy.  These exposures include drugs (prescription, over-the-counter, or illegal drugs), alcohol, cigarettes, chemotherapy, radiation.  Chemical products at work or in the environment, such as lead, organic solvents and pesticides, also fit into this category.

Unlike maternal exposures (read Things to Avoid),  paternal exposures do not appear to cause birth defects, according to current studies, but more research is needed in this area.  Some paternal exposures, however, can damage a man’s sperm quality, causing infertility or lengthy delay in conception or early pregnancy loss.  Research indicates that some exposures may cause genetic changes in sperm that might increase the risk of childhood cancer in a man’s children.

Cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can seriously alter sperm, at least for a few months post treatment.  Some men opt to bank their sperm before they receive treatment to preserve its integrity.

Again, further research into to the field of paternal exposures is needed to fully understand the risks associated with them.