Humira during Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

by on June 17, 2012

The FDA categorises Humira (adalimumab) as a class B medication. This means that either animal studies have not shown any harm caused by using the medication during pregnancy, or that adverse effects on foetuses during animal studies have been demonstrated, but no problems have been shown in human studies.

You should contact your physician and let them know immediately if you are taking Humira and are pregnant, breast-feeding or plan to become pregnant as your treatment may need to be changed or your condition monitored more closely.

Humira during Pregnancy

Rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, psoriasis and Crohn’s disease are conditions that affect young women fairly frequently. Therefore, it is quite likely that women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant may take Humira. A study in monkeys looking at the effects of taking Humira on the developing fetus showed no harm caused, even at levels 200 times the strength used in humans. However, because our physiology may work differently to animals in terms of how we process Humira, we cannot know for certain that Humira is safe to take during pregnancy. Therefore, a woman should only take Humira during pregnancy if she really needs it. Her doctor will weigh up the potential for harm caused to the fetus against the benefits conferred to the mother by taking this medication and treating her medical condition.

To study further the effects of Humira on pregnancy, a pregnancy register has been developed. Your doctor may choose to put you on this if you are pregnant and using Humira.

Humira during Breastfeeding

Similarly, because the conditions that Humira treats do affect young women, it is likely that some breastfeeding mothers may require treatment with Humira. It is not known if Humira is present in human breast milk, or of the effect of this on a child. The doctor will weigh the mothers need for the medication against the potential effects on the child when deciding whether to continue treatment with Humira in lactating mothers.

If you are breastfeeding and are taking Humira, then there are ways that you can minimise the effects of this on your child. You should speak to your doctor about taking the lowest possible dose of Humira that still controls your symptoms. In addition, it is important to plan at what time of day you will take the medication. If you take it at the beginning of the longest possible time before the child feeds again, for example just after a feed, or when the child is asleep, then the majority of the medication will have cleared from your body before the child feeds again. This will ensure that your baby is exposed to the minimum amount of medication, whilst you still get the drug that you need.