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 serotoniniXA natural mood stabilizer and a chemical that conveys messages throughout the body 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 has high effectiveness in blocking 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, its contraindications, and its effects on fetal and maternal health.

In This Article

Is Imitrex Safe During Pregnancy?

FDA suggests the use of Imitrex only when the potential benefits outweigh the risks

Image: Shutterstock

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 on pregnant women to determine its effects on the fetus. Hence the FDA suggests the use of Imitrex only when a safe alternative fails to work or when the potential benefits outweigh the risks (2).

Exercise caution and use this drug only when there is a clear diagnosis of migraine headaches. It should not be used as prophylactic therapyiXIt is a medicine or therapy used to inhibit the development of a disease for migraine attacks or treatment of cluster headache (3).

protip_icon Health fact
Do not use Imitrex to treat hemiplegic or basilar migrainesiXA type of migraine with aura in which identified by symptoms such as vertigo, double vision, and difficulty in speaking . Individuals with a history of narrowing of blood vessels in the legs, arms, kidneys, or stomach (peripheral vascular disease) should also avoid it (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). Therefore, Imitrex has certain contraindications in pregnant women due to the risks involved.

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 in the appropriate dosage 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)
  • ArrhythmiaiXAn irregularity in the heart's rhythm
  • Chest, throat, neck, jaw tightness and pain
Imitrex may cause side effects such as jaw pain

Image: Shutterstock

  • Medication overuse headache
  • Serotonin syndrome (high body temperature, agitation, tremor, sweating, dilated pupils)
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Hypersensitivity reactions
  • SeizuresiXThese are abrupt, uncontrollable physical movements and behavioral changes driven by irregular electrical activity in the brain

protip_icon Quick fact
Imitrex can cause dizziness, weakness, or drowsiness. Do not drive or do anything that requires alertness if you have these symptoms (3).

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.
Practice mindfulness, Is Imitrex safe during pregnancy

Image: Shutterstock

  • 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.

protip_icon Quick tip
Scalp massages and cold compresses (holding ice bags against your temple or neck as you feel an attack approaching) may help with migraine attacks (10).

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I take Imitrex in the first trimester?

Yes. According to new research, Imitrex (or Sumatriptan) is safe to take during the first trimester or any time during pregnancy and is not associated with any adverse pregnancy outcomes (8).

2. Does Imitrex cause congenital disability?

No. According to the Sumatriptan, Naratriptan, and Treximet Pregnancy Registry, there is no association of Imitrex (or Sumatriptan) with teratogenicityiXA substance's capacity to harm or induce abnormalities in an embryo or fetus related to significant congenital disabilitiesiXA structural or functional abnormality present from birth (9).

3. Are there any alternative medications or treatments for migraines that are considered safer during pregnancy?

Non-drug treatments and therapies such as massage, getting adequate sleep, and the application of an ice pack are generally recommended by experts during pregnancy. Additionally, you may look for relaxation techniques like breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga to get relief. Try keeping your stress levels under control (11).

4. Can Imitrex pass through breast milk, and is it safe to use while breastfeeding?

Very tiny amounts of Imitrex pass through the breastmilk of nursing women. This quantity does not cause any untoward effect on the baby. But if you find your child showing symptoms like upset stomach or excessive drowsiness, consult your doctor (12).

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.

Many expectant mothers often ask themselves, “Is Imitrex Safe During Pregnancy?.” A pregnant woman may use Imitrex only with a doctor’s prescription if safer alternatives fail to work or if the possible benefits justify the concerns. This is because Imitrex has several side effects that could jeopardize your pregnancy. Hence, only use the drug if you have a clear migraine headache diagnosis, not for cluster headachesiXUnilateral headache that involves droopy eyelids, teary eyes, and a stuffy nose or as a prophylactic treatment. Alternatively, increasing fluid intake, getting enough rest, and practicing relaxation techniques may help prevent and relieve migraine headaches. It’s also a good idea to talk to your doctor and get the proper therapy.

Infographic: What Are The Side Effects Of Imitrex During Pregnancy?

Your doctor could have prescribed Imitrex (sumatriptan) for migraine; however, before taking it during pregnancy, discuss the potential risks and benefits with them. Also, this medication might cause specific side effects when taken in inappropriate doses, as highlighted in this infographic.

possible side effects of imitrex for pregnant women recovered (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get the high-quality PDF version of this infographic.

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Key Pointers

  • Imitrex is the brand name of sumatriptan, a medication used to treat migraines and cluster headaches during pregnancy.
  • Since studies lack its safety on pregnant women, the FDA recommends it only when safer alternatives fail to work.
  • Imitrex might have side effects such as myocardial ischemia, arrhythmia, throat and jaw pain, and hypersensitivity reactions.
  • Practicing relaxation techniques, recognizing migraine triggers, and trying to avoid them can help prevent migraine during pregnancy.
  • Pregnant women should consult a doctor before taking medication for a migraine.

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
8. Treating Migraine During Pregnancy; American Headache Society
9. Sara A Ephross and Susan M Sinclair; Final results from the 16-year sumatriptan, naratriptan, and treximet pregnancy registry; Headache (2014)
10. Migraine Home Remedies; American Migraine Foundation
11. V Pfaffenrath and M Rehm; Migraine in pregnancy: what are the safest treatment options?; NCBI (1998)
12. Pregnancy, breastfeeding and fertility while taking sumatriptan; NHS

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