Wellbutrin During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

by on August 6, 2012

It is estimated that around 13% of pregnant women have depression. This is a common problem that can have an effect on the developing child. Although symptoms of depression normally resolve with time, some women may experience more severe forms of depression (also known as clinical depression) which might require medication.

Can Pregnant Women Take Wellbutrin?

The Food and Drug Administration classifies Wellbutrin as a Pregnancy Category C medication which means that it can potentially harm the developing child based on animal studies. However, since pregnancy category C medications have not been adequately studied in pregnant women, it may still be prescribed to women if the benefits outweigh the potential risks.

In animal studies conducted on pregnant rabbits, it was revealed that use of bupropion may increase the risk of birth defects and giving birth to an infant with low birth weight. On the other hand, limited studies on pregnant women suggest that use of this medication during pregnancy is unlikely to cause problems.

Take note that symptoms of severe depression can negatively affect the health of the baby. The benefits of controlling the depression symptoms should be considered when deciding whether to use this medication during pregnancy or not.

If you become pregnant or plan to become pregnant while taking Wellbutrin, be sure to inform your healthcare provider. You and your healthcare provider should consider the benefits and risks of using this medication before making any decision.

Can Breastfeeding Women Take Wellbutrin?

Bupropion is excreted into the breast milk which can potentially cause adverse effects on the breastfed child. The manufacturer of Wellbutrin recommends that healthcare providers carefully consider the potential benefits and risks of bupropion to the child and the mother. If you plan to breastfeed while taking Wellbutrin, be sure to consult your healthcare provider.

There are limited studies that evaluate the effects of bupropion on breastfeeding women. These studies checked on the level of the drug on the breast milk of the mother and in the nursing infant’s blood. Findings did not show significant amounts of bupropion the blood of the breastfed children and there were no side effects reported.

Although side effects were rarely noted, there is one case report of an infant who developed symptoms consisted with seizure however blood levels were not checked to confirm the link of this medication. This finding reveals the possibility of bupropion causing seizure in breastfeeding infants.

According to limited information available, breastfeeding women taking bupropion above 300 mg per day are likely produce low levels of the drug in the breast milk, possibly leading to undetectable levels in the blood of the child.

It is suggested that the drug is unlikely to cause side effects in nursing infants. However, because of the limited amount of information, caution is still advised when using this drug during pregnancy.