Is Amphetamine Safe to Take While Pregnant?
Amphetamine is a potent drug that stimulates the central nervous system. It can be present in prescription drugs like Adderall to treat conditions such as ADHD, and less commonly obesity and narcolepsy. Amphetamine can be recreationally misused by people who want to feel a euphoric, energetic high, stay awake for long periods, or lose weight, because it suppresses the appetite of the person taking the drug. Sometimes, amphetamine is taken as a way to improve athletic or cognitive performance. When someone consumes amphetamine, even at therapeutic doses, it can cause serious physical and mental effects. For example, the person may experience euphoria, insomnia, or psychosis. Off-label consumption of amphetamine is sometimes meant for the treatment of chronic pain and depression. Amphetamine sulfate is the variation of the drug taken recreationally and non-medicinally. It’s also called “speed”.
Whether someone is taking amphetamine as prescribed and therapeutically, or they’re recreationally misusing it, taking speed while pregnant can be dangerous. Due to the potential risks, there aren’t many human-based, well-controlled research efforts to monitor the effects of amphetamine during pregnancy. However, as it is a category C drug according to the FDA, it confirms there are risks associated with taking speed while pregnant. Taking speed while pregnant can cause harm not only to the fetus, but also to the mother.
Amphetamine effects on the fetus are often related to the effects of the drug on the mother. For example, amphetamines can cause someone to lose their appetite. This may mean the fetus isn’t getting the required nutrition, and the mother may lose weight rather than gaining it. This is a complication of pregnancy that can have serious effects on the fetus. Taking amphetamines can also cause a person to feel edgy, and experience symptoms like hypertension and hyperactivity. Amphetamine can raise blood pressure and heart rate, and all of these effects can have a stressful, negative effect on the fetus. Someone taking amphetamine, whether pregnant or not, can experience rapid heart rate, nausea, blurred vision, sweating, insomnia, and changes in mood and behavior. Over time, taking amphetamine can cause a reduction in cognitive ability and cardiovascular complications in the mother, such as stroke. Also possible is a breakdown of muscle and malnutrition. Negative amphetamine effects on the fetus have reportedly included:
- Cleft lip
- Cardiac problems
- Low birth rate
- Reduction in growth
- Reduced head size
- Biliary atresia
- Premature labor
- Cerebral hemorrhage
- Low body weight
- Systolic murmur
- Undescended Testes
While these are theorized amphetamine effects on the fetus, since human studies are so dangerous it’s difficult to know whether or not these effects are from the drug or something else. However, there is a likelihood that birth defects like the ones listed above could result from taking speed while pregnant. Other pregnancy complications that can occur when a mother takes amphetamines include impaired fetal blood vessel function, heart attack, stroke, and spontaneous abortion.
Some research shows taking psychostimulant drugs during pregnancy can affect how the brain of the fetus develops. There have been a few studies using brain imaging, and these have shown that there is a potential for the consumption of prenatal amphetamine may impair how white matter develops in the brain. White matter is essential for healthy communication between different areas of the brain. When a mother takes a stimulant drug like amphetamine during pregnancy, it may also contribute to a higher likelihood of anxiety, aggression, depression, and ADHD later in life for the child.
There is a potential for a baby to be born addicted to amphetamine and dependent on it if their mother takes it during pregnancy. In this case, the baby would likely experience withdrawal following birth. Neonatal amphetamine withdrawal symptoms can include problems feeding, irritability and agitation. Also possible is excessive drowsiness. It can take several weeks for amphetamine withdrawal symptoms in newborns to subside.
There are two different scenarios to consider when looking for alternatives to taking amphetamine while pregnant. If someone is recreationally misusing the drug and they become pregnant, they may need to participate in a treatment program. Amphetamine misuse, addiction, and dependence can be serious problems and can be difficult to overcome without professional help. If someone is prescribed amphetamine and they become pregnant, they should speak with their doctor about alternatives. For example, if amphetamine is prescribed to treat ADHD, a medical professional may be able to work with the patient to create an alternative treatment plan including therapy, relaxation techniques, and other natural options. There may also be other prescription drugs that could be safer during pregnancy than amphetamine. Generally, when a woman is taking a prescription medicine, the doctor will weigh the benefits versus the potential risks and create a plan and course of action for whether or not the medication should be continued.
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