Ritalin LA and Pregnancy
In animal studies on Ritalin LA and pregnancy, the medication caused birth defects and low birth rate. As a result, the FDA gave the drug a pregnancy Category C rating. However, if you are taking Ritalin LA and pregnancy occurs, your healthcare provider may have you continue to take it if he or she believes that the benefits to you outweigh the risks to your unborn child.
Ritalin LA® (methylphenidate extended-release) may not be safe for women to use during pregnancy. This is based on animal studies that looked at the effects of the drug during pregnancy.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses a category system to classify the possible risks to a fetus when a specific medicine is taken during pregnancy. Pregnancy Category C is given to medicines that have not been studied in pregnant humans but that appeared to cause harm to the fetus in animal studies. Also, medicines that have not been studied in any pregnant women or animals are automatically given a pregnancy Category C rating.
Ritalin LA was given a pregnancy Category C rating because it was shown to cause problems in pregnant animals. Methylphenidate (the active ingredient of Ritalin LA) has caused birth defects (including spina bifida) in rabbits. Also, when methylphenidate was given to rats during pregnancy and breastfeeding, the baby rats gained less weight than normal.
However, it is important to note that animals do not always respond to medicines the same way that humans do. Therefore, a pregnancy Category C medicine may be given to a pregnant woman if a healthcare provider believes that the benefits to the mother outweigh any possible risks to the unborn child.