Is Accutane Safe During Pregnancy?
Accutane - Serious Medication
Severe acne requires serious treatment, and Accutane is very serious medication designed to address the condition. It is a man-made form of vitamin A that is taken orally and prescribed when other medications fail. In the US it is available for only one month at a time, so you must see your medical practitioner monthly to get a renewal prescription. If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, the likelihood of obtaining a prescription for Accutane is remote.
The Risks Associated with Accutane
Accutane is known to cause birth defects and is, therefore, unsafe for pregnant women or for women who are trying to conceive. If the drug is taken during pregnancy, the baby is at very high risk for serious birth defects - even if only a small amount is taken for a very short period of time. The birth defects that are known to result from Accutane include mental retardation, various brain malformations, heart defects and facial abnormalities.
The drug can cause any of these defects in the very early stages of pregnancy, even before you are aware you are pregnant. The drug also significantly increases the risk of premature delivery, miscarriage, and infant death.
Safeguarding Your Baby
The safeguards surrounding the use of Accutane are designed to protect a baby in utero. Before even receiving the prescription, you will be advised of the ramifications of the drug and you must agree to the "iPLEDGE" program designed by the manufacturer to ensure the drug is not prescribed to pregnant women and to ensure that a woman taking the drug does not become pregnant. Two negative pregnancy tests, contraceptive education, and the use of two contraceptive methods for sexually active women are required before the prescription is released.
If you are trying to become pregnant and you are taking Accutane, you must stop taking the drug at least a month before you try to conceive in order for it to be cleared from your body. Although the drug is usually out of your system within ten days of the last dose, a month is required to be sure there will be no danger of birth defects or risk of losing the baby.
If You Discover You Are Pregnant...
Should you discover you are pregnant while you are taking the drug, stop immediately and contact your caregiver who can tell you about the risks and what tests are available to assess your baby's health. There is a special ultrasound that is available to screen for birth defects that is administered in the second trimester. It will expose physical problems but cannot determine learning difficulties or problems that may occur in development.