Is It Safe to Take Vicoprofen While Pregnant?
Vicoprofen is a brand-name combination drug. The two generic, active ingredients included in Vicoprofen are hydrocodone and ibuprofen. Hydrocodone is an opioid, so when it’s used, it binds to specific receptors in the central nervous system. When the opioid receptors are activated, it can alter how pain signals are sent to the brain. The use of opioids can also change the emotional response a person has to pain. Ibuprofen fights pain differently by combating inflammation. The combination of hydrocodone and ibuprofen makes Vicoprofen a powerful pain medication.
While opioids like hydrocodone are effective at relieving some types of pain, they have risks as well. Because of the opioid component, Vicoprofen can cause respiratory depression, for example. Opioids like hydrocodone are also addictive, and physical dependence can form when they’re used. Ibuprofen is an over-the-counter medication with limited side effects for most people and no potential for addiction. To reduce the risk of addiction and dependence, Vicoprofen is only supposed to be used for ten days or less. Mild, common side effects of Vicoprofen can include drowsiness, dizziness, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea. More severe side effects requiring immediate medical attention can include chest pain, wheezing, coughing, confusion and shallow breathing.
Is it safe to take Vicoprofen while pregnant? Vicoprofen isn’t considered safe to take while pregnant unless otherwise instructed by a healthcare provider. First, hydrocodone is a class C pregnancy drug. This is the case with other opioids as well. The FDA outlines different drug categories, based on research and believed safety of drugs during pregnancy. These categories start with A. Category A drugs are believed to be the safest if used during pregnancy. In animal and controlled human studies, category A drugs haven’t demonstrated potential harm to a fetus. Category B drugs are considered safe as well, although controlled human research may be fairly limited.
Most drugs are classified as category C, such as hydrocodone. Category C drugs may have demonstrated potential harm to a fetus in animal studies, and there are limited human studies. The risks with category C drugs can’t be ruled out. There are also category D drugs, which generally wouldn’t be prescribed during pregnancy unless the benefits significantly outweighed the risks. Category X drugs wouldn’t be considered to have any situation where the benefits outweigh the risks during pregnancy. While hydrocodone is category C and could be prescribed during pregnancy if the benefits outweigh the risks, ibuprofen is a bit different. Ibuprofen is both a category C and D drug, depending on when it’s taken during pregnancy.
Since Vicoprofen is a combination drug, to determine how it could affect a fetus, both ingredients have to be looked at. First, hydrocodone and other opioids are used in pregnancy only when the benefits will outweigh the risks, as directed by a doctor. The use of opioids during pregnancy can have negative effects on a fetus. For example, the CDC reports the use of opioids during pregnancy can increase the likelihood of spina bifida, which is a neural tube defect. The use of opioids is also associated with a higher risk of hydrocephaly, glaucoma, gastroschisis and congenital heart defects. Ibuprofen is linked with risks if used during pregnancy as well. Ibuprofen is classified as an NSAID. NSAIDs are not recommended for use during pregnancy. The use of NSAIDs during pregnancy can increase the risk of pulmonary hypertension in newborns. NSAIDs are also linked with other cardiovascular defects and oral clefts. There is some research showing NSAIDs can increase the risk of miscarriage. Taking NSAIDs after the 30th week of pregnancy can increase the risk of premature closure of certain heart ducts.
Along with an increased risk of birth defects, there is another potential adverse effect linked to Vicoprofen during pregnancy. Babies can be born dependent on Vicoprofen because it contains hydrocodone. Just as adults can become dependent on opioids so can a baby because it passes through the placenta. If a baby becomes dependent on Vicoprofen in the womb, it will go through withdrawal symptoms after it’s born. This is called neonatal abstinence syndrome or just NAS. Symptoms of NAS can vary quite a bit in severity and duration. Symptoms of NAS linked to opioid exposure can include excessive crying, inability to gain weight and problems with feeding and sleeping. Usually, if a baby is born dependent on Vicoprofen or another opioid, they will have to spend time in the NICU for specialized treatment.
If a woman is pregnant, her doctor will likely discuss alternatives to Vicoprofen. It’s unlikely a pregnant woman would be given a new prescription for Vicoprofen because of the risks. However, if a woman is already using Vicoprofen either by prescription or recreationally, she should speak to her doctor about the best option. Stopping Vicoprofen suddenly can cause withdrawal. If a pregnant woman goes through withdrawal, there can be serious complications. She may need to participate in a supervised detox program and might also benefit from addiction treatment. During pregnancy, it’s important not to start or stop taking Vicoprofen or any medication without first speaking to a healthcare provider.
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