Pregnancy comes with a lot of expectation and excitement. However, in some pregnant women, the period can seem like one of dos and don’ts. When pregnant, you can wonder if your list should also feature “do not take Adderall.” Though there are different medications considered safe for pregnant women, Adderall for managing ADHD is not one of them.
Understandably, you have gotten many questions on Adderall and pregnancy. The article below will answer most of these questions, including the risks associated with this medication, any alternative ADHD treatments in pregnancy, and the drug’s safety profile, among others.
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How Does Adderall Works?
To appreciate the correlation between Adderall and pregnancy, you should first understand how the drug works. Adderall comprises dextroamphetamine and amphetamine. These drugs work together to increase the availability of dopamine and norepinephrine, neurotransmitters in the brain. They also stimulate a patient’s central nervous system. Stimulating norepinephrine and dopamine makes a patient with ADHD maintain focus while regulating his/her attention.
Common Side Effects of Adderall and Pregnancy Risks
Like with almost all medications, using Adderall carries a risk of side effects. The common side effects include:
- Rapid heart rate
- Blood pressure changes
- Weight loss
- Numb or cold extremities
- Appetite loss
- Worsening of mental health issues like bipolar disorder and depression
Other than these side effects, some patients can become addicted to Adderall. Most side effects will affect a mother and her unborn baby, so they should be emphasized in pregnancy. For instance, eating a healthy diet is essential in pregnancy. Nausea, loss of appetite, and vomiting impact a mother’s diet, thus placing the pregnancy at risk.
Getting Pregnant on Adderall
Adderall and pregnancy might be two things that do not often mix, but what about when trying to conceive? A few women claim that the drug has helped them conceive though there is no scientific backing of this. In fact, scientific research on animals concluded that Adderall reduces fertility. The research has not been replicated in humans because of the high risk of harm.
Generally, doctors recommend getting off Adderall before conceiving because it is categorized as a Class C drug. This category includes drugs that have shown adverse effects in animals but do not have adequate studies in humans. If your question is ‘does Adderall make it harder to get pregnant?‘ the answer is non-conclusive because of scanty research. If you get pregnant on Adderall, do not immediately stop taking the drug. Consult your doctor on whether you should reduce your drug dosage, stop taking the medication or continue if its benefits outweigh the risks.
Safety of Adderall in Pregnancy
Adderall can seem like a godsend for relieving ADHD symptoms, and sometimes those of narcolepsy, in pregnant women. Nonetheless, the medical community generally agrees that Adderall and pregnancy should not be mixed. Some side effects associated with Adderall are serious on their own and even more when a baby and mother’s lives are on the line.
Despite the consensus of the medical community on Adderall and pregnancy, a doctor might still recommend it when its benefits outweigh the risks. As such, the answer to the question ‘is it safe to continue Adderall use in pregnancy’ is it depends on a patient’s profile. Discuss the decision with your doctor to get the best way forward for your pregnancy.
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Risks to Developing Baby
With no studies in humans on Adderall and pregnancy, the information on the effects of Adderall on developing babies is scanty. According to animal studies, Adderall might increase the chances of congenital abnormalities of the digestive tract and limbs though the risk is low.
Babies of mothers taking Adderall also have increased risks of low birth weights, premature delivery, and drug withdrawal symptoms like dysphoria, agitation, or poor growth. Nonetheless, a 2019 study on eight expectant mothers on Adderall saw no adverse pregnancy outcomes in babies and moms. More research is necessary before concluding how safely Adderall and pregnancy work together.
Is It Safe to Take Adderall when Breastfeeding?
Similar to Adderall and pregnancy, there isn’t enough data on the safety profile of Adderall when breastfeeding. The biggest concern is the drug passing through breast milk to the baby to cause appetite loss, insomnia, and failure to thrive, among other adverse effects. Adderall might also cause decreased breast milk production in mothers.
The available data suggests that though ADHD medications can be passed in breast milk, their risk to babies is minimal when the drugs are taken as prescribed. Nonetheless, a doctor should check the risks and benefits of taking Adderall when breastfeeding in your case to advise you.
ADHD Treatment Alternatives during Pregnancy
Getting off ADHD medications when pregnant can seem like a serious issue. Furthermore, both Vyvanse and Ritalin, the common alternatives to Adderall in ADHD treatment, are also considered risky. Thankfully, there are other options for managing ADHD in pregnancy. These include:
- Relaxation techniques like massage, and yoga
- Neurotherapy, a technique that uses electrodes to improve and change neurological functions
- Physical exercise
- Antidepressants, specifically tricyclic ones, that stimulate the production of norepinephrine
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When managing ADHD in pregnancy, it is best to consider how your management approaches affect your unborn baby. With the above information on Adderall and pregnancy, you know what to expect. Therefore you can take the right steps to protect your unborn baby and still manage your symptoms of ADHD. Remember to follow your doctor’s recommendations on your medication use in pregnancy and breastfeeding.