Health Watch -- Pregnancy and Medication

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

Even seemingly harmless things could cause problems for mothers-to-be.

We know that what a mother takes into her body during pregnancy can affect the growing fetus. That's why doctors tell their pregnant patients not to take any medication without medical approval. Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say that includes over-the-counter medication.

Take aspirin, for example. It's a time-tested remedy for headaches, fever and other ailments, and it's seemingly harmless. You probably don't think twice about taking an aspirin when you don't feel well. But Dr. Norman Gant, a UT Southwestern obstetrician, says that chronic aspirin use during pregnancy can cause serious complications. It can lead to increased risk of hemorrhage before and during childbirth, longer pregnancy, longer labor and pulmonary hypertension.

Other common medications that seem harmless but can cause pregnancy complications include antihistamines and diuretics. That doesn't necessarily mean pregnant women can't take any medicine at all. They should just talk to their doctor before taking anything. Your doctor may be able to suggest a safer alternative that will ease your symptoms without causing harm, or your doctor can provide medical supervision to prevent or deal with any complications caused by necessary medication.

If you don't seek medical advice before you take a drug, you could be putting yourself and your baby at risk.