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What are the Risks of Taking Prednisolone in Pregnancy?

By Marisa O'Connor
Updated May 17, 2024
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The risks of taking prednisolone in pregnancy are not entirely clear as of 2011. As it is a steroid, there is a potential risk of growth defects as well as a risk of harmful interactions with other drugs or medical conditions. Prednisolone is excreted into breast milk, so there is also risk of passing harmful amounts to the child after birth.

Prednisolone is classified under FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration) category C. The category represents the drug's risk to the fetus during pregnancy. A category C classification means that there are no human studies available to determine the risk factor. This category may also mean that animal studies have shown harmful effects of the drug during pregnancy. A C classification tells the doctor to prescribe this drug to pregnant women only when there are no alternatives and the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

It is unknown as of 2011 whether taking prednisolone in pregnancy is harmful to the fetus. There are no controlled human studies of the effects of prednisolone on the fetus. Some conflicting data from animal studies have shown adverse effects on the fetus. Prednisolone may still pose a risk to the pregnancy if it triggers a reaction from another medication or preexisting medical condition.

The drug classification for prednisolone is steroid. Steroids have many limitations when interacting with other drugs and medical conditions. This means that one of the risks of taking prednisolone in pregnancy doesn't necessarily have to do with the pregnancy, but a reaction can occur during pregnancy. Make sure the prescribing doctor knows of all preexisting medical conditions and medications being taken in order to prevent an adverse reaction.

The medical function of prednisolone is to prevent the body from releasing the substance that causes inflammation. It is prescribed to treat illnesses with symptoms caused by inflammation, such as allergic disorders, arthritis, and breathing disorders. The unproven concern from taking prednisolone in pregnancy is that it will cause birth defects in the fetus from stunted growth.

One risk of taking prednisolone in pregnancy is that the drug can enter breast milk. Studies have shown that small amounts of prednisolone are excreted into human breast milk. The extent of the risk, however, remains debatable. The authors of one study recommend that women taking a dose of prednisolone greater than 20 mg should wait four hours to nurse.

Prednisolone affects growth in children. Taking prednisolone in pregnancy may affect the growth of the child. If prednisolone is introduced into the child's system, particularly through breast milk, it can slow the child's growth. Consult a doctor about any concerns related to abnormal child growth.

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