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?

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 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).

Health fact
Do not use Imitrex to treat hemiplegic or basilar migraines. 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).

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
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
  • Seizures
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.

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 teratogenicity related to significant congenital disabilities (9).

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 headaches 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

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
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