Chantix during Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

by on April 21, 2012

How harmful is smoking during pregnancy?  Smoking raises the blood pressure of the mother and complicates any pre-existing health conditions, such as asthma or diabetes.  The risks to the unborn baby include low birth weight, breathing problems, increased risk of stillbirth and miscarriage and increased vulnerability to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).  Pregnant mothers are advised to stop smoking to protect their health and the health of their child.

Should Chantix be used during Pregnancy?

Chantix is classified as a category C medication by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).  While there have been no well-documented studies performed of Chantix use in pregnant humans, it has been studied in animals.

Chantix caused decreased fetal weights, reduced fertility in animal offspring, and increased auditory startle response.  This indicates that Chantix should be used during pregnancy only if the benefits outweigh the risks.   It should be noted that, since no human studies have been done with pregnant humans, it is not known if Chantix would have any affect on labor or delivery.  Women are advised to tell their healthcare providers that they are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant before beginning Chantix.

Can Chantix be used by Breastfeeding Mothers?

It is not known if Chantix is excreted in human milk.  In animal studies, Chantix has been shown to be excreted in the milk of lactating animals.  Furthermore, according to one researcher, it may even interfere with infant lung development.  Because of the risk of potential adverse reactions, breastfeeding mothers need to decide whether to discontinue the drug or to stop nursing their child while they are taking the medication.

If the decision is made to continue Chantix while breastfeeding, nursing mothers are advised to observe their infants for possible side effects of the medication.  It is important for nursing mothers to inform their healthcare providers that they are breastfeeding their child before starting Chantix.

Possible Side Effects

Several side effects have been reported from patients using Chantix for smoking cessation.  The most common side effects reported are nausea and other gastrointestinal disturbances, fatigue, headache and increased appetite. These are already similar to those symptoms suffered by pregnant and nursing mothers.

In addition to these, other side effects are also listed.  These include neuropsychiatric disturbances (for example, changes in mood, suicidal thoughts and actions and depression), serious skin reactions, cardiovascular events and accidental injury.

Can Chantix be taken in Combination with Birth Control Pills?

Chantix does not have an effect on birth control medications; it does not make them less effective. There have been no reports of adverse reactions between Chantix and birth control pills.  Additionally, quitting smoking while taking birth control pills reduces smoking-related risks such as blood clots, cardiovascular events and strokes.

Women are advised to tell their doctors of all medications they are taking, including birth control, before they begin Chantix.

While it is clear that quitting smoking is beneficial to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, the use of any category C medication is usually not advisable.  This includes this use of Chantix during pregnancy and breastfeeding, unless it is believed that use of this medication clearly outweighs the risks of its use during this time.  For the health and well-being of mother and baby, expectant and nursing women should consult their doctors before taking Chantix.