Ritalin and Pregnant Women

Ritalin is not suitable for everyone, and pregnant women should only take the medication if their healthcare provider believes that the benefits outweigh any possible risks to the unborn child. Although the link between Ritalin and pregnant women has not been studied extensively, pregnant animal studies show that the drug can cause birth defects and low birth rate in babies who are exposed to Ritalin during pregnancy.

Ritalin and Pregnant Women: An Overview

For women who are pregnant, Ritalin® (methylphenidate hydrochloride) may not be safe to take. This is based on animal studies that looked at the effects of the drug during pregnancy.

Ritalin and Pregnancy Category C

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 appear 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 was given a pregnancy Category C rating because it was shown to cause birth defects in rats and rabbits. Also, giving Ritalin to pregnant rats caused low birth weight in the baby rats.
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 the healthcare provider believes that the benefits to the mother outweigh any possible risks to the unborn child.

Recommendations for Ritalin and Pregnant Women

If you are taking Ritalin and pregnancy occurs, or if you are thinking about becoming pregnant while taking the drug, let your healthcare provider know. He or she will consider the benefits and risks of Ritalin during pregnancy before making a recommendation for your particular situation.
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