Gabapentin During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

by on May 15, 2012

Can Pregnant Women Take Gabapentin?

Animal studies suggest that gabapentin can cause harm on the unborn child therefore should be avoided during pregnancy.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration classifies gabapentin (Neurontin) as a Pregnancy Category C medication, which means that animal studies conducted on this medication has caused harm on the fetus. However, well-controlled studies conducted on pregnant women are inadequate to determine the safety of this medication on pregnant humans. Gabapentin may be used during pregnancy only when the benefits outweigh the potential risks.

In animal studies, gabapentin has been shown to increase the risk for fetal malformation, particularly delayed bone formation. Some of the most commonly affected parts include the skull, backbone and the extremities. These effects are more apparent in animal samples that were given higher doses of gabapentin.

Animal studies further suggest that gabapentin can cause urinary tract and kidneys problems. The drug has also been associated with the increased risk of miscarriages.

Women in their child-bearing years are advised to take folic acid supplements to help prevent potential fetal defects due to gabapentin. Since the effectiveness of this preventative measure has not been fully established, pregnant women taking gabapentin are encouraged to undergo diagnostic ultrasonography before the 20th week of pregnancy for evaluation of the fetus and to determine if pregnancy termination is advisable.

If you become pregnant or plan to become pregnant while taking gabapentin, be sure to consult your healthcare provider. You should discuss with your healthcare provider the benefits and risks of taking gabapentin. Depending on your condition, you should make a shared decision (together with your physician) whether to continue taking this medication or not.

Can Breastfeeding Women Take Gabapentin?

Gabapentin is excreted into the breast milk in women. It is believed that the nursing infant may be exposed to a maximum dose of approximately 1 mg/kg per day of gabapentin. However, since the safety of this medication on the nursed infants remains unknown, the manufacturer recommends that this medication be prescribed only when the benefits outweigh the risk. Therefore, breastfeeding women should consult their healthcare provider first before taking gabapentin.

There are a limited number of reports concerning breastfeeding women who took gabapentin without causing any problems on the breastfed infants. Usually, healthy, full-term newborns safely tolerate the amounts of gabapentin (Neurontin) they are exposed to through the breastmilk.

If your physician believes that taking gabapentin while breastfeeding is more beneficial, be sure to monitor for possible side effects on your infant. Watch out for any signs of drowsiness, problems with feeding, and slow weight gain and development.

It is important to discuss with your healthcare provider potential effects of gabapentin on breastfeeding. Remember that each patient is experiencing a unique situation, and your healthcare provider is in the best position to give you appropriate recommendations.