Smiley & Smiley, LLP

Responding to confusion over drug safety in pregnancy

Women find themselves in a unique position when they are pregnant and breastfeeding. During these two periods of time, they expose their pregnancies or their breastfeeding babies to any food, liquids or medications they ingest. As a result, many women are understandably cautious about what they put inside their bodies while breastfeeding and during pregnancy.

Unfortunately, it is not always easy to tell which products are safe for ingestion and which are not. Nowadays, physicians are acutely aware of certain dangers and can properly inform their pregnant and breastfeeding patients about these dangers. For example, while soft cheese and sushi are not generally considered to be dangerous products, they may be dangerous during pregnancy. However, even physicians are not always sure which medications may pose a risk to women during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

In an effort to better ensure that pregnant and breastfeeding women remain informed about which medications are safer than others to take during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, the Food and Drug Administration will soon overhaul its safety risk warning system.

The current system uses a series of letters to identify which drugs are considered to be relatively safe, risky and generally off-limits to pregnant and breastfeeding patients. Many physicians and patients have found the system to be both confusing and vague. The new system, set to launch in June of this year according to The New York Times, will detail risks clearly and without a corresponding letter “grade.” This necessary set of reforms will hopefully impact patient safety in truly positive ways.

Source: New York Times, “F.D.A. Revamps System Explaining the Risks of Medicines During Pregnancy,” Sabrina Tavernise, Dec. 4, 2014

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