Is It Safe to Take Vyvanse While Pregnant?
Is it safe to take Vyvanse while pregnant and, if not, how should ADHD be treated during this time? These are common questions pregnant women might have. Vyvanse is a stimulant medication, and the generic, active ingredient it contains is lisdexamfetamine. Vyvanse is used once a day, and it can be prescribed for children ages 6-12, teens and adults. The potential for misuse and addiction of Vyvanse does exist with its use, because it is a controlled substance. Lisdexamfetamine stimulates the central nervous system, and it’s also used to treat binge eating disorder. Lisdexamfetamine has a chemical structure similar to dextroamphetamine, and it’s paired with the amino acid L-lysine. Serious or deadly side effects can rarely occur with Vyvanse. These effects can include cardiac problems, particularly in people with previous heart problems. Also possible is an increase in blood pressure and sudden stroke. Vyvanse shouldn’t be used in people with a history of heart problems, certain mental health problems or circulation problems. It shouldn’t be combined with MAOIs either. More common and milder side effects of Vyvanse can include anxiety, decreased appetite, dizziness, diarrhea, dry mouth and irritability.
There is a warning that comes with Vyvanse and other prescription stimulants about their potential for misuse. As with other amphetamines or similar drugs, the longer someone uses Vyvanse, the more likely they are to become dependent or addicted. Vyvanse is supposed to be part of a larger ADHD treatment program. For example, a doctor may recommend it’s used in conjunction with cognitive behavioral therapy to improve symptoms.
Is it safe to take Vyvanse while pregnant? According to the FDA, Vyvanse’s active ingredient is a category C pregnancy drug. The following are what the FDA’s pregnancy categories describe:
- A category A drug is one that hasn’t shown harmful fetal effects in animal studies or human studies. Category A drugs are considered the safest to take during pregnancy.
- Category B drugs are considered safe for the most part during pregnancy. Category B drugs don’t have known harm to a fetus in animal studies, although well-controlled human research studies may be limited.
- Category C drugs like Vyvanse fall into somewhat of a gray area. Category C drugs may have evidence indicating harm in animal studies and no well-controlled human studies to indicate their safety or risk. With category C drugs like Vyvanse, a doctor may still advise a pregnant woman to use it if the benefits of its use outweigh the possible risks.
- Category D drugs typically shouldn’t be used during pregnancy unless there is very compelling evidence that it would be harmful to a woman not to use them.
- Category X drugs are harmful during pregnancy.
There are indirect risks of taking Vyvanse while pregnant that you might want to speak with your doctor about. For example, Vyvanse may decrease your appetite, which can lead to inadequate nutrition. This can be risky for you and your unborn baby. Vyvanse and stimulant drugs can also raise heart rate and blood pressure, which can increase the likelihood of certain pregnancy complications. There is some evidence of birth defects occurring in animal studies when high doses of amphetamine were administered. In animal studies, prenatal exposure to amphetamine showed long-term learning and memory problems, and changes in overall neural function. There aren’t any well-controlled studies looking at the effects in human pregnancy, however. With the use of stimulants like Vyvanse while pregnant, a baby is more likely to be born prematurely and with low birth weight. It is also possible that stimulants like Vyvanse can restrict blood flow to a fetus as well.
There is also the risk of symptoms of withdrawal occurring with neonatal stimulant exposure. Symptoms of newborn withdrawal resulting from Vyvanse can include agitation and sleep disturbances. Stimulants like Vyvanse aren’t considered safe while breastfeeding, either. The drug can pass through breastmilk and cause symptoms in a newborn. These symptoms can include loss of appetite, restlessness and sleep disturbances like insomnia. Also possible is a failure to thrive.
If you’re already taking Vyvanse and you plan to become pregnant or are currently pregnant, the first thing to do is have a conversation with your healthcare provider. As you go through pregnancy, your hormones and emotions often fluctuate and can make symptoms of ADHD even more pronounced and difficult to deal with. However, your doctor may advise you to stop using Vyvanse and other ADHD medications if the risks of the medication outweigh the possible benefits. Your doctor may instead advise you to make certain lifestyle changes or participate in something like talk therapy as a way to manage symptoms while you’re pregnant. Don’t stop taking Vyvanse suddenly without first talking to your healthcare provider.
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