Last Updated on Apr 22, 2016

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Taking certain drugs during pregnancy can cause birth defects.

Birth defects are abnormalities of function, structure or metabolism that are present since birth. They often lead to mental or physical disabilities, and can sometimes be fatal.

Drug-Induced Birth Defects

Taking certain drugs during pregnancy can cause birth defects. Around 1 in 10 birth defects are caused by using over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription drugs during pregnancy. Drugs that cause birth defects are called 'teratogens'. The teratogenic drugs interfere with the normal development of a fetus and can cause birth defects including cleft lip, cleft palate, spina bifida and organ deformities.

There are several medications which are safe to use when a woman is expecting her baby. However, some prescription and OTC medications including aspirin, isotretinoin, vitamin A and some antibiotics pose the threat of birth defects and should not be used by pregnant women. Drugs have been categorized according to their potential to cause birth defects during pregnancy. Drugs in category A are considered the safest, whereas drugs in Category X cannot be used in pregnancy under any circumstances.

As a rule, no medication should be taken during pregnancy without the advice of a doctor.

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