Is Imitrex (Sumatriptan) Safe During Pregnancy?

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“Is Imitrex Safe During Pregnancy?” is a common question for pregnant women with a history of migraines and cluster headaches. Imitrex is the brand name of sumatriptan, a serotonin receptor agonist that narrows the head’s blood vessels and stops sending pain signals (1). It is prescribed for migraine with or without aura. Imitrex does not prevent or reduce the number of headaches but blocks the substances in the brain that cause migraine symptoms. You may consult a doctor to treat headaches and other symptoms since all medications are not recommended for pregnancy. Keep reading to know more details about the safety of Imitrex during pregnancy to treat headaches.

Is Imitrex Safe During Pregnancy?

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classified Imitrex as a “pregnancy category C’ drug. Studies conducted on rats and rabbits observe fetal abnormalities, embryo, and pup mortality. And there aren’t enough well-controlled studies in pregnant women to determine the effects. Hence the FDA suggests the use of Imitrex only when safer alternatives fail to work or when the potential benefits outweigh the risks (2).

This drug must only be used only when there is a clear diagnosis of migraine headache. It should not be used as prophylactic therapy for migraine attacks or treatment of cluster headache (3).

Studies On Use of Imitrex During Pregnancy

The data available through manufacturer-sponsored pregnancy registers and a few retrospectives and prospective observational studies on the effects of sumatriptan state that the risk of malformations is not over the baseline risk in the general population (4).

Another study conducted using the Swedish Medical Birth Registry found that the risk of fetal malformations was not significantly high in women who used sumatriptan during their early pregnancy. But the study does not rule out a moderate increase in possible preterm births and low birth weight in babies (5).

Acetaminophen is usually prescribed during pregnancy because of its proven safety. If that does not give you relief, then the doctor may prescribe sumatriptan.

Does Taking Sumatriptan During Pregnancy Increase The Chances of Miscarriage?

The data available through pregnancy registries for sumatriptan states that spontaneous abortion is the most common adverse effect. However, your doctor might prescribe the drug during pregnancy if they deem it necessary (6).

What Are The Side Effects of Imitrex During Pregnancy?

Imitrex might have the following side-effects (7).

  • Myocardial ischemia (deficient blood supply to the heart muscles)
  • Arrhythmia
  • Chest, throat, neck, jaw tightness and pain
  • Medication overuse headache
  • Serotonin syndrome (high body temperature, agitation, tremor, sweating, dilated pupils)
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Hypersensitivity reactions
  • Seizures

How To Manage Migraine Attacks During Pregnancy?

The frequency of migraine during pregnancy tends to decrease throughout gestation, especially during the second and third trimester. If you are diagnosed with migraines, then consult your healthcare provider and take the prescribed medicine. However, there are some non-medical ways to prevent the recurrence of migraine attacks (2).

  • Stress can be a triggering factor for migraine attacks, so try relaxation techniques and practice mindfulness.
  • Avoid activities and foods that could trigger your migraine.

Mild headaches can be treated by increasing the intake of fluids and getting adequate rest. But if you are diagnosed with migraines, then it is best to consult your doctor and take the appropriate treatment.

Did you take Imitrex to treat migraines during pregnancy? Share your experience with us by commenting in the section below.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not a replacement for a doctor’s consultation. Do not use any medication without talking to your doctor.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. Sumatriptan; MedlinePlus Drug Information
2. Prescribing Information; Sumatriptan Succinate; US Food and Drug Administration
3. Prescribing Information- Imitrex; US Food and Drug Administration
4. Silvia Duong, RPh, Pina Bozzo, Hedvig Nordeng, PhD, and Adrienne Einarson, RN;Safety of triptans for migraine headaches during pregnancy and breastfeeding; NCBI (2010)
5. Kallen B, Lygner PE; Delivery outcome in women who used drugs for migraine during pregnancy with special reference to sumatriptan; NCBI(2001)
6. Offie P. Soldin, PhD, MBA,Julia Dahlin, and Daniel M. O’Mara, BA; Triptans in Pregnancy; NCBI (2013)
7. Imitrex (sumatriptan succinate); GlaxoSmithKline
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Dr. Irene (Eirini) Orfanoudaki

(PhD, MD)
Dr. Irene (Eirini) Orfanoudaki is a gynecologist-obstetrician, having a private practice in Heraklion, Crete, and collaborating with private health clinic 'MITERA' - Euromeda in Heraklion. With more than two decades of experience as a gynecologist-obstetrician, she specializes in ultrasound, colposcopy, minimal and advance gynecologic surgery, aesthetic gynecology, fertility consulting, menopause consulting, operative obstetrics, high-risk pregnancy, normal deliveries, antenatal, intra-parum, postnatal... more

shreeja pillai

Shreeja holds a postgraduate degree in Chemistry and diploma in Drug Regulatory Affairs. Before joining MomJunction, she worked as a research analyst with a leading multinational pharmaceutical company. Her interest in the field of medical research has developed her passion for writing research-based articles. As a writer, she aims at providing informative articles on health and pharma, especially related to... more