What to Know about Amphetamines and Pregnancy

According to the NLM, you should “tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding” before you begin an amphetamine treatment regimen. Still, not all of life can be perfectly planned, so it is important to understand the effects amphetamines can have on pregnancy and if these are serious.

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The Effects of Amphetamine Use During Pregnancy

Unfortunately, there isn’t a large amount of research on the subject of amphetamine use during pregnancy. According to an NCBI study, there is indeed a “need for further investigations concerning the prenatal exposure effects of designer compounds and the effects of amphetamine and methamphetamine in general.”

There is a general awareness, however, that stimulants can cause effects on both the mother and the fetus. For example, these drugs cause the user to experience a minimized appetite. This could cause the individual to lose weight instead of gaining it, something that is problematic during pregnancy.

Emory University School of Medicine states, “The systemic effects of amphetamines are hypertension, dilated pupils, tremors, and hyperactivity.” While these effects may seem tame, anything that causes an individual to feel edgy or highly stressed can have a negative effect on both the mother and child. In addition, these drugs quicken the heart rate and the blood pressure which can make the stress of carrying a child more intense.

In addition, “malformations and adverse outcomes” have often been reported along with the abuse of amphetamine drugs during pregnancy. These include:

  • Cleft lip
  • Cardiac defects
  • Low birth weight
  • Growth reduction
  • Reduced head circumference
  • Biliary atresia
  • Premature labor
  • Stillbirth
  • Hyperbilirubinemia
  • Cerebral hemorrhage
  • Low body weight/low body fat
  • Systolic murmur
  • Undescended testes

It is important to note, though, that there have not be definitive tests performed to prove that the drugs caused these issues. For example, the defects could be “caused by the environment of the drug user or by other extraneous factors,” so it is difficult to be certain they were caused by amphetamine use. However, these results are still associated with the use of amphetamine drugs.

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Is It Dangerous to Take Amphetamines During Pregnancy?

drug use in pregnancy

Any kind of drug use during pregnancy is risky.

It is always dangerous to abuse any type of drug during pregnancy. Even caffeine, another, much milder stimulant, can cause dangerous results if taken in excess by a pregnant individual. It is difficult to be sure if amphetamine use at a prescribed dosage is dangerous during pregnancy or not. Someone who needs to take these medications for the treatment of a specific condition (like ADHD or narcolepsy) should discuss the question with their doctor.

Because there is so little known about the effects of amphetamines and pregnancy, it seems better to err on the side of caution. If you are currently taking these drugs by prescription and happen to become pregnant, you should discuss it with your doctor, as it is never beneficial to suddenly stop taking a particular medication without first talking to a physician about the best way to stop.

In some cases, a person may even need to be weaned off the drug, or their doctor may suggest that they continue a low-dose regimen. It is important to find out what you can about amphetamine use during pregnancy from a clinician, especially if you plan on becoming pregnant.