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Is It Safe to Take Duloxetine in Pregnancy?

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  • Written By: Anna B. Smith
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 26 February 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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It is not known whether it is safe for women to use duloxetine in pregnancy. Women who are taking this medication and discover that they are pregnant should contact their doctors immediately. Some doctors may feel that those disorders which the medication is treating pose a greater threat to the fetus than the medication itself. Women in such situations may then be encouraged to continue with their medication, and may be more closely monitored during pregnancy as a result.

Duloxetine is a serotonin and norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitor. It can be used as an antidepressant prescribed to some individuals to elevate their moods and decrease anxiety. It may also be used to lessen the feeling of pain in patients with certain types of osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. Its primary purpose is to increase the levels of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain, both of which can increase a person's overall mood and lessen the amount of pain signals the body sends to the brain.

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Some studies have shown that individuals taking duloxetine can occasionally experience increased feelings of depression and tendencies towards suicide. Those patients who experienced such side effects were generally young teens and young adults under the age of 24. They also tended to fall into the category of patients taking this drug as an anti-depressant, and not for pain management. Doctors believe the patients predisposition towards such depressed and suicidal thoughts may have played a factor in the side effects they experienced while taking this medication. As a result, duloxetine is not approved for use in children, preteens, or adolescents.

Extensive trials have not yet been conducted concerning the use of duloxetine in pregnancy. No known birth defects have been conclusively linked to the use of this medication by women during any stage of pregnancy, though decreased birth weights were recorded in studies conducted on pregnant animals. As a result, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rates duloxetine as a Category C drug. It is known to cause adverse reactions in animals, and should only be prescribed in humans when the possible benefits outweigh the potential side effects. Doctors are encouraged to register their pregnant patients who are taking this drug so that more information may be gathered on its potential side effects in both mothers and babies.

Women who have been prescribed this drug prior to becoming pregnant may be encouraged to continue using duloxetine in pregnancy. Patients with extreme mood altering depression and panic or anxiety disorders may be at risk to cause harm to the fetus if their conditions are not being actively treated. This type of medication can have a profound and immediate effect on an individual's mood, and it is generally not recommended that they either begin or end this medication immediately upon becoming pregnant.

Most doctors encourage patients to gradually decrease their daily dose of anti-anxiety and anti-depression medication according to a prescribed timeline. If a woman's doctor is concerned about birth defects that may arise from the use of duloxetine in pregnancy, he may prescribe a transition program from that medication to another that has been proven to have no adverse consequences for mother or child. Similarly, women on this medication for pain management may be transitioned to another drug for the duration of their pregnancy.

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