Is Atomoxetine Safe to Take While Pregnant?
Atomoxetine is a prescription medication classified as a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor. It’s sold under the trade name Strattera and is also available as a generic medication. Atomoxetine is prescribed to treat symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It’s prescribed to children, teens, and adults, but not usually children under the age of six. Atomoxetine has some benefits compared to other treatments for ADHD, such as a lower abuse potential. It’s also possible to stop using atomoxetine without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Common side effects of atomoxetine include nausea, dry mouth, loss of appetite, insomnia, fatigue, and headache. These are fairly common side effects with most ADHD medications. There is a black box warning about the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors with the use of atomoxetine as well. As with most ADHD medicines, atomoxetine should be used in conjunction with a full treatment plan that includes social and psychological treatments.
Is atomoxetine safe to take while pregnant? Most ADHD medicines, including atomoxetine, are classified as category C drugs by the FDA. This classification means that there is not be definitive research that either links atomoxetine to harm during pregnancy or rules it out. A doctor will usually weigh the benefits and the potential risks of the medication and then make a decision as to whether the medicine should be discontinued or prescribed during pregnancy. Ideally, this conversation happens before a woman becomes pregnant; however, that doesn’t always happen and may also occur during her pregnancy.
In some animal studies, ADHD medicines have resulted in an increased risk of spina bifida and skeletal abnormalities. In some cases, the use of ADHD drugs during pregnancy has been linked to birth defects and even death of the fetus.
When a doctor is trying to determine whether or not a pregnant patient should continue taking an ADHD medication, some factors should be part of that decision –the specifics of her ADHD diagnosis, her level of functionality without medicine, how long she’s been taking medicine, and what the demands are in her work life that could be affected by not taking ADHD medication. Some doctors may recommend not using medication during the first trimester but then using it in the second and third trimester. This is possible because most of the fetal development happens during the first trimester.
If a pregnant woman decides she absolutely doesn’t want to take atomoxetine during pregnancy, she and her healthcare provider may explore different options. However, it’s important to never stop taking a prescription medication without speaking with a doctor first. If a doctor does say that it’s okay to stop using atomoxetine, natural alternatives may be suggested. For example, certain vitamins, such as the use of a B-complex, may be helpful. Many adults with ADHD find talk therapy like cognitive-behavioral therapy to be helpful. Relaxation techniques, exercise, and meditation may all provide some benefits. Mindfulness psychotherapy, neurofeedback, and acupuncture are all also alternative ADHD treatments that some people recommend. All of these options should be openly and honestly discussed with your healthcare provider, who will likely have suggestions as well.
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