Heparin is a blood thinner, which is often prescribed to prevent the formation of blood clots. This drug is also often used before surgery to possibly reduce the risk of blood clots (1). Patients suffering from atrial fibrillation are often prescribed this drug to reduce the formation of clots in the legs and lungs (2).
If you’re pregnant and already on heparin, will taking this drug affect your baby in any way? Keep reading to find out.
Is It Safe To Use Heparin During Pregnancy?
The use of heparin and other anticoagulants during pregnancy could prove to be unsafe, and this use could cause certain complications in the fetus. For over 20 years, many pregnant women have been prescribed with heparin as a drug to deal with possible blood clot formations, and also to reduce the risk of serious complications associated with the clots including preeclampsia, low birth weight, loss of fetus and disruption of the placenta.
However, a large study published in the journal The Lancet has revealed that heparin could actually be ineffective, and it did not manage to reduce the incidence of serious blood clots, stillbirths and miscarriage when used during pregnancy (3).
However, experts believe that heparin is safe to be consumed during pregnancy, since it does not cross the placental barrier and affect the developing baby (4).
It is, however, important to note that this safety is restricted only when it comes to the consumption of low molecular weight heparin, which is now commonly being used. The use of other anticoagulant medications such as warfarin and heparin (which was used earlier) could possibly pose health risks to both the mother and the baby.
[ Read: Safe Medications During Pregnancy ]
Can Heparin Cause Pregnancy Complications?
In general, there is a very low risk of any pregnancy complications associated with the use of heparin as a blood thinner.
Infact, a study has also confirmed the safety of the use of low molecular weight heparins during pregnancy, and has found that the risk associated with it use is negligible for both the mother and the baby (5).
However, it is important to note that long term use of heparin could increase the risk of osteoporosis in women (6).
While low molecular weight heparin is safe for use during pregnancy, the version of heparin which was use earlier could cause many adverse health conditions for both the mother and the baby.
- It may lead to improper development of the nasal septum, and cause central nervous system abnormalities such as Dandy-walker malformation, optic atrophy and blindness.
- Abnormalities within the central nervous system may also cause many other devastating side effects such as seizures, deafness, spasticity and even death.
- Infact, its use during pregnancy could also increase the risk of miscarriage and spontaneous abortion.
- The long term use of heparin needs to be controlled, and pregnant women who are taking the drug should be carefully monitored.
- Heparin induced thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) is an adverse effect associated with the use of heparin during pregnancy, and is noted in around 5% of the cases. In most cases, this condition is mild and reversible, and is observed in the first few days of treatment.
- In rare cases, skin reactions may also be seen, however, it is usually restricted to the site of the injection.
- Some other rare heparin side effects during pregnancy include alopecia, minor bleeding and osteoporosis (7).
[ Read: Is Ibuprofen Safe During Pregnancy ]
If you are affected by a disorder that needs you to take anti-coagulant medications, have a talk with your doctor about which medications could be safe for use during your pregnancy.
We hope this article gave you a better understanding about taking heparin during pregnancy. Got any views to share? Let us know in the comments section below.
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