Adderall While Pregnant: What You Need to Know

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For women who struggle with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and are pregnant or looking to become pregnant, deciding whether to continue using Adderall can be a difficult decision. However, the stimulant can be highly addictive if misused. This may leave moms-to-be wondering: can Adderall be harmful to a baby? According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Adderall is listed as a pregnancy category C drug. This means that Adderall consumption in animals has shown side effects, but there has not been enough research conducted to conclude the effects it can have on human babies. Adderall may be presumed relatively safe to use during pregnancy, but there have been some negative outcomes from using the drug.
Adderall is a common prescription amphetamine used to help people with ADHD concentrate and reduce impulsive behaviors. The stimulant works to produce dopamine in the brain, which can alter a person’s mood and attention span. For individuals with ADHD, this can mean giving an individual the motivation to get out of bed and be active. Unlike other stimulants used to treat ADHD, Adderall can last up to six hours.

The medication can come in the form of a tablet or an extended-release capsule. Regardless of the form, the dosage is written on it. Since Adderall is considered to be highly addictive, those who take the pill as prescribed must watch the amount they consume to reduce the risks of negative side effects. Because of its strength and addictive tendencies, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency classifies Adderall as a Schedule II controlled substance. This means that the drug is only legal for people who have a prescription.

Adderall While Pregnant: What You Need to Know
Most studies conducted to find the effects of Adderall on a fetus utilized animal testing. The drug was found to cause birth defects and increase the possibility of miscarriages in lab mice. Adderall also caused the mice to be born prematurely, have a low birthweight and experience withdrawal symptoms. However, it’s important to note that the lab mice were consuming doses up to six times more of the recommended dosage for a human child. Animal studies also found that exposure to amphetamines in the womb also caused learning difficulties and memory deficits.

The effects that Adderall has on human fetuses are somewhat similar to the effects on lab mice, but there has not been much additional research conducted. Reuters Health examined data on more than 1.8 million pregnant women and found that 5,571 of them took an amphetamine, like Adderall, in their first trimester. The research concluded that there was no heightened risk of a baby being born with birth defects or heart malformation, compared to the 11 percent of babies who experience birth defects from the consumption of methylphenidates like Ritalin. While there may not be much Adderall-focused research on human fetuses, it’s not advised for pregnant mothers to continue the use of Adderall unless the benefits outweigh the risks.

Doctor Eva Ritvo, a Miami Beach psychiatrist, suggests that expecting mothers use antidepressants in place of Adderall or other stimulants to reduce the risks associated with their usage. In an interview with the Parents Network, Ritvo explained how there can be ways to manage ADHD without the use of prescription drugs. “Non-pharmacologic ways of treating ADHD include exercise and psychotherapy and can be effective in treating the disease if medication needs to be avoided.” Other activities to relieve stress can include massage therapy and meditation, which can also be an asset throughout a woman’s pregnancy and labor respectively.

In an interview with Washington Post, Doctor Catherine Harrison-Restelli of Sheppard Pratt Health System, believes that sometimes stopping the use of the medication can be more harmful. “[I]f a woman’s ADHD is very severe, I would much rather her take the lowest effective dose of medication to treat her symptoms, rather than to crash her car, burn down the house by leaving the stove on, get fired from work for poor performance, start smoking or using alcohol or drugs to manage stress, or have her other children injured in accidents because her ADHD is untreated.” She also recommends bupropion for mothers who don’t want to risk being off medication for the duration of their pregnancy.

Whether a mother would like to find an alternative to Adderall or stop taking it altogether, a medical professional should be consulted beforehand to help minimize the withdrawal symptoms that may be experienced.

If you or a loved one are looking to have a child and are struggling with an addiction to Adderall, call The Recovery Village. With several facilities across the country, The Recovery Village can offer an individualized form of care tailored to your situation. Call a representative today at 352.771.2700 to begin your journey.