Lipitor during Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

by on April 20, 2012

The FDA—or Food and Drug Administration—lists Lipitor as a pregnancy class X drug. This means that Lipitor has been proven to cause defects or death in unborn animal and human fetuses in clinical trials.  Some of the problems found that were attributed to the use of Lipitor during pregnancy were low birth weight of the infant, poor infant weight gain, possible developmental delays and a possibility of skeletal malformation.

Women who are pregnant or who could become pregnant are discouraged from using Lipitor; physicians are encouraged to find alternate treatment methods during the pregnancy but should only do so if the risk to the mother is not immediately life-threatening.

Treating high cholesterol with Lipitor is a very long term thing. It could take years or even decades for high cholesterol to have a serious effect on the health of the mother. Therefore, it has been concluded that stopping the use of Lipitor for the short term that a woman is pregnant is not harmful to her long term health. And since Lipitor has been found to cause fetal problems in animals and in humans that did not realize they were pregnant and kept taking Lipitor, it is always recommended by physicians that the use of Lipitor be stopped during pregnancy.

In pregnancy, cholesterol is necessary for the development of the fetus, and cholesterol usually does rise in expectant mothers. This is normal and the extra cholesterol is needed by the fetus in order to develop properly. Because it doesn't pose a long term health risk to the mother to stop using Lipitor for the short period of time that she is pregnant, it is always highly recommended that Lipitor's use be stopped during this time.

Breastfeeding and Lipitor

Breastfeeding is also not recommended if taking Lipitor, and if a mother intends to breastfeed, she should not take Lipitor during that time. A similar drug was found to be transferred in breast milk, but it hasn't been positively proven that Lipitor transfers into the breast milk. Still, it is advised that the mother either does not breastfeed if she is taking Lipitor, or discontinues its use while breastfeeding.

Patients should always consult their physicians before discontinuing any medication.