Limited information on the safety of glyburide in pregnancy is available, although studies seem to suggest that it can be safe for use in pregnant patients. This medication lowers blood sugar levels and is used in the management of some forms of diabetes, including gestational diabetes. A doctor treating a pregnant patient with diabetes may go over the case with care to determine the risks and benefits of various treatment options. If the benefits of taking glyburide in pregnancy are greater than the risks, the doctor may decide to recommend it for management of the patient's health.
The Food and Drug Administration in the United States has assigned glyburide medications to both category C and B, because the drug is used in several formulations. Those in category C have shown no risk in animal studies, but have not been studied extensively in human populations. Category B drugs do show a risk in animal studies, but the lack of data on use in pregnant women makes it hard to determine if the drugs are dangerous. Conducting drug safety studies on pregnant women is challenging, as there are some ethical concerns about testing medications on developing fetuses.
In controlled studies on the use of glyburide in pregnancy, along with other agents used to lower blood sugar, the medication does not appear to cross the placenta, and seems to pose a low risk to women and their developing fetuses. Some reports indicate, however, that infants born to mothers who took the medication could have low blood sugar, which could endanger their health. The lack of firm information on the safety or lack thereof with glyburide in pregnancy may make a doctor reluctant to prescribe the drug unless a patient absolutely needs medication to control blood sugar levels in pregnancy.
Patients with diabetes can get pregnant and may have successful pregnancies, but they do require careful monitoring throughout the pregnancy. It may be necessary to make diet and lifestyle adjustments, and to be careful with medications used to control blood sugar, for patients who need these drugs. Glyburide in pregnancy is one option for the management of blood sugar. Others may be more suitable, and new research constantly emerges to provide more data on the safety and efficacy of various medication choices.
Studies on the use of this drug in breastfeeding women seem to suggest it is safe, as it should not cross through to breast milk. Women with concerns about using this drug during pregnancy or breastfeeding can consult their obstetricians for more information. The doctor has access to the latest studies on the subject and can explain the risks and benefits of various options to help the patient make an informed choice.