Chronic health conditions, prescription medicines and pregnancy

October 24, 2019

If you’re thinking about starting a family and you take medicine to manage a chronic health condition, you may have questions about it. A chronic health condition (also called chronic illness or chronic disease) is one that lasts for 1 year or more that needs ongoing medical care and that can limit a person’s usual activities and affect daily life. Chronic health conditions include asthma, thyroid conditions, diabetes, high blood pressure, epilepsy and mental health conditions.

You may be thinking about how your treatment can affect your pregnancy and your baby’s health.  Women with chronic health conditions can and do have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. If you have a chronic condition, medicine can be key to your overall health. And your overall health is important for your baby.

Managing your medicines 

Your health care providers can help you manage your medicine so you’re as healthy as possible throughout pregnancy. Not all prescription medicine is safe to use during pregnancy. But don’t start or stop taking any prescription medicine before, during or after pregnancy without talking to your health care providers first. Some things to keep to also keep in mind:

  • Certain medicines taken during pregnancy can increase the risk for birth defects, pregnancy loss, prematurity, infant death or developmental disabilities.
  • The effects of medicine on you and your baby depend on many factors, such as how much medicine you take (sometimes called the dose), when during the pregnancy you take the medicine, other health conditions you have and other medicines you take.

What do you need to know? 

  • Tell your providers about any medicine you take.
  • Don’t start or stop taking any medicine without talking to your providers first. This can cause problems for you and your baby.
  • If your medicine is not safe to take during pregnancy, your provider can help you find one that’s safer. If the medicine you take is needed to keep you healthy, you and your providers can weigh the benefits and risks for both you and your baby.
  • Working with your providers to make informed choices about medicine can help you have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.

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