Pregnant with MS: Drug Exposure

Patient Expert
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Learning that you are pregnant can be an exciting event. But unexpectedly becoming pregnant while you are taking powerful medications can cause panic and concern. For many medications, research studies have not been thoroughly conducted to ascertain the safety of specific medication use before or during pregnancy.

What to do once you learn you are pregnant

  • Contact your doctor. The best person equipped to work with you in deciding what you need to do to ensure the safety of your unborn child is your healthcare provider. If you have MS, contact your neurologist. If you have RA, contact your rheumatologist. You get the idea.
  • Women who become pregnant while using prescription medication can contribute to the body of evidence-based information regarding the exposure of medications during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Contact MotherToBaby.org, a service of the non-profit Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), to speak with experts, obtain information, and register with research studies.
  • Contact the manufacturer of the medications you are taking. Some companies offer programs that enroll patients who become pregnant into studies to track their progress and outcomes.

Goals of MotherToBaby.org

  • Provide counseling to patients and healthcare professionals about exposures related to pregnancy and breastfeeding, so they can make informed treatment choices.
  • Reduce risks and decrease the number of preventable birth defects by educating the public and healthcare providers about specific agents of concern.
  • Empower patients with accurate information about the true risks of an exposure, thereby preventing unnecessary terminations of wanted pregnancies.
  • Facilitate communication and collaboration between affiliated services.
  • Contribute collectively to research and the worldwide literature in the field of teratology.

Who can call MotherToBaby?MotherToBaby experts answer questions from women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning a pregnancy. Spouses or other family members, healthcare professionals, and the general public may also call MotherToBaby. MotherToBaby experts are available through confidential, FREE counseling service: 1-866-626-6847. ** What can I call MotherToBaby about?**

MotherToBaby experts can discuss the risks of any kind of exposure during pregnancy or breastfeeding, including: Prescription medications; Over-the-counter medications; Vitamins and supplements; Alcohol and recreational drugs; Vaccinations or immunizations; Diseases or infections; Chemicals; Pesticides; Occupational exposures; Paternal exposures

Multiple Sclerosis, Pregnancy, and Drug Exposure

MotherToBaby stresses that more studies are needed in order to fully assess the safety of the medications used to treat MS during pregnancy.

  • Some studies have suggested that Interferon-ß1A, Interferon-ß1B, glatiramer acetate (Copaxone®), and natalizumab (Tysabri®) appear to increase the risk of miscarriages or birth defects; however the number of women enrolled in these studies was very small.
  • Results from pregnancy registry studies posted by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society did not find an increased risk of birth defects or miscarriages in pregnant women with MS who had taken Interferon-ß1A, Interferon-ß1B, or Natalizumab (Tysabri®), although some are still considered preliminary.
  • Mitoxantrone (Onkotrone®) has been shown to cause birth defects and growth restriction in animal studies.
  • To date, teriflunomide (Aubagio®), fingolimod (Gilenya®) and dimethyl fumarate (Tecfidera®) are not approved for use in pregnancy.
  • On occasion, a short course of corticosteroids such as prednisone may be used to treat a relapse during pregnancy. For more information about prednisone/prednisolone during pregnancy, see the prednisone Fact Sheet.

You can help future moms with multiple sclerosis. MotherToBaby is currently conducting studies on the safety of medications used to treat MS during pregnancy and beyond. Learn more or Sign Up Now!

(Resource: MotherToBaby.org. Accessed June 19, 2015.)

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Lisa Emrich is author of the award-winning blog Brass and Ivory: Life with MS and RA and founder of the Carnival of MS Bloggers. Follow Lisa on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.