Certain medications and treatments long considered safe to treat pregnant women with migraines may have adverse effects on the babies, suggests new research. The researchers pointed out that acetaminophen, used by over 65 per cent of pregnant women in the US, has been linked to pediatric development of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
“We hope this review of medical treatments will serve as a guide for doctors and patients on how to interpret new findings, especially regarding four treatment options that doctors have commonly used for their pregnant patients with migraines,” said lead study author Rebecca Erwin Wells, assistant professor of neurology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, US.
“Patients and doctors need to be aware that concerns exist and they should carefully weigh the risks and benefits of these treatments,” Wells noted.
The review was published in the journal Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports. The study also revealed that magnesium, previously considered one of the safest supplements that could be used during pregnancy, is now rated at level D by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), meaning that it may not be safe.
Similarly, butalbital, a barbiturate drug used to treat headache in combination with caffeine, acetaminophen, aspirin and/or codeine, could potentially increase the risk of congenital heart defects, the researchers pointed out citing a small study. Most women with migraines actually experience fewer headaches during pregnancy, especially during second and third trimesters, Wells said.
“There are many available treatment options for migraine during pregnancy and lactation, so patients can be assured that they will not suffer during this important time in their lives,” she said. “The most important thing is to talk to your doctor about your headaches during pregnancy and lactation.
He or she can guide you on the available treatments and their safety, including non-pharmacologic options, such as healthy lifestyle habits, relaxation training, stress management, biofeedback, and possibly even meditation and yoga,” Wells noted.