Can You Take Prednisone When Pregnant?

Can You Take Prednisone When Pregnant

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The presence of infections or a medical condition may make your doctor prescribe corticosteroids such as prednisone. Corticosteroids are useful for treating a broad spectrum of illnesses including autoimmune, tumor and allergic conditions.

Pregnant women experience the same benefits and side effects as non-pregnant women with corticosteroid therapy (1). This MomJunction post will help you understand the pros and cons of prednisone during pregnancy and its ideal dosage.

What Are Prednisone And Prednisolone?

Prednisone and prednisolone are synthetic corticosteroids, which work to suppress the inflammation and immune responses. Prednisone is broken down to prednisolone in the body, and both are helpful in treating autoimmune diseases, skin conditions and asthma. They mimic the activity of hydrocortisone, a natural corticosteroid produced by the adrenal glands.

They are suggested in different dosages based on the condition being treated and are available in the form of tablets, capsules, gels, inhalers, topical creams, eye drops, injections and intravenous solutions (2).

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Can You Take Prednisone During Pregnancy?

You can take prednisone during pregnancy only if its potential benefits are more than the risks to you and the baby. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists it under “Pregnancy Category C” of drugs, which means animal studies have shown adverse effects on the unborn baby, and there are no well-controlled studies in humans. Some studies also showed that this drug is capable of crossing the placenta on oral intake (3).

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When Is Prednisone Recommended For Pregnant Women?

Prednisone is recommended during pregnancy in the case of:

  • Autoimmune disorders including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), asthma, antiphospholipid syndrome (4), and hepatitis (5).
  • Severe allergic problems, where prednisone is prescribed in combination with other anti-allergic drugs (6).
  • Hyperandrogenism, a condition of elevated male sex hormones in pregnant women. It happens when the fetus produces male hormones and enhances the androgen levels in the woman. This leads to decreased uterine tone and even pregnancy loss (7).

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What Is The Recommended Dosage Of Prednisone For Pregnant Women?

Your doctor will prescribe the lowest possible dose, preferably one per day. The usual dosage begins at 40 to 60mg every day and is gradually reduced to 5mg in a 12-week period (8).

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What Are The Possible Side Effects Of Prednisone During Pregnancy?

High dosage of prednisone is likely to cause some side effects as mentioned below:

  • Increases the possibility of delivering a premature baby; the baby may be born before 37 weeks of pregnancy and have a low birth weight (9).
  • Consumption after the first-trimester may marginally increase the risk of birth defects in the baby. However, it increases the risk of oral cleft in the newborn up to four times (10).
  • According to research, up to 70% of patients reported an increase in body weight due to prolonged use of the drug. Almost 73% of patients complained of sleep disorders after taking this medication (11).
  • Other common side effects include a headache, irritability, sleeplessness, nausea, weight gain, and anxiety. Serious side effects could be high blood sugar, changes in vision, swelling in the feet or ankles (12).

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Does Prednisone Cause Withdrawal Symptoms?

Yes, abrupt termination of the medication might result in general withdrawal symptoms such as weakness, extreme fatigue, stomach upset, slowed movements, fever, changes in skin color, salt cravings and weight loss. To avoid these, take the doctor’s advice before you reduce the dosage or stop the medication (13).

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Does Prednisone Interfere With Birth Control Pills?

It could, depending on the birth control pill you are on. Birth control pills are usually less effective in the presence of prednisone. Women who were on birth control pills showed an increase in plasma levels of prednisolone along with higher cortisol suppression (14).

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Will Prednisone Treat Infertility In Women With Repeated IVF Failure?

Corticosteroids such as prednisone are used to treat infertility in women, as they are believed to reduce the number of natural killer cells to facilitate conception. But these drugs suppress the immune responses as well, preventing the immune system from responding to pregnancy. Suppression of the immune system will increase the risks of congenital disabilities, miscarriage and preterm labor (15).

Take care when having prednisone during pregnancy since it can adversely affect your health and your unborn baby’s growth. Consult a medical practitioner before using it during pregnancy. Following a physician’s guidance can help you avert the side effects of the medication during pregnancy.

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Did you use prednisone when you were expecting? Share your experience and advice, if any, in the comment section.

References:

1. Lockshin, Sammaritano L.R; Corticosteroids during pregnancy; Scand J Rheumatol Suppl; 1998
2. Drug record corticosteroids; National Institutes of Health; 2018
3. John J. Cush; Prevention and Management of Serious Infections with Biologic Use in Rheumatoid Arthritis; Drug safety quarterly, 2013
4. Jones WR; Autoimmune disease and pregnancy; Aust N Z J ObstetGynaecol; 1994
5. Marion G. Peters; Management of Autoimmune Hepatitis in Pregnant Women; Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y); 2017
6. Quick Reference from the Working Group Report on Managing Asthma During Pregnancy: Recommendations for Pharmacologic Treatment; National Asthma Education And Prevention Program; 2004
7. Deepti Jain; Fertility and pregnancy outcome in a woman with classic congenital adrenal hyperplasia; BMJ Case Rep; 2013
8. Prednisolone; Essential Medicines and Health Products Information Portal; 1998
9. Prednisone/Prednisolone and Pregnancy; Organization of Teratology Information Specialists
10. Park W, Mazzotta P, et al.; Birth defects after maternal exposure to corticosteroids: prospective cohort study and meta-analysis of epidemiological studies; Teratology; 2000
11. Miriam C, Pasquale V; Corticosteroid-related central nervous system side effects; J PharmacolPharmacother; 2013
12. Prednisone; U.S. National Library of Medicine; 2015
13. T R Fields; Steroid Side Effects: How to Reduce Corticosteroid Side Effects; HSS
14. Seidegård J, Simonsson M, Edsbäcker S; Effect of an oral contraceptive on the plasma levels of budesonide and prednisolone and the influence on plasma cortisol; Clin PharmacolTher. 2000
15. Steroid treatment for IVF problems may do more harm than good; The University of Adelaide; 2016

 

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Rebecca Malachi

She is a Biotechnologist with a proficiency in areas of genetics, immunology, microbiology, bio-engineering, chemical engineering, medicine, pharmaceuticals to name a few. Her expertise in these fields has greatly assisted her in writing medical and life science articles. With 8+ years of work experience in writing for health and wellness, she is now a full-time contributor for Momjunction.com. She is passionate about giving research-based information to readers in need. Apart from writing, she is a foodie, loves travel, fond of gospel music and enjoys observing nature in silence. Know more about her at: linkedin.com/in/kothapalli-rebecca-35881628
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