Antiviral drugs are considered a category B for pregnant women. Category B medications have been tested on animals but no human testing has been completed to clear all concerns about taking the medications during pregnancy. A new study published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) via WebMD lends a human side to trials.
Problems With Acyclovir in Pregnancy and Herpes Treatment
SafeFetus.com offers detailed information on pregnancy drug categories and potential threats to fetus if the drug is taken during pregnancy. Acyclovir, though considered safe by researchers, is listed as a possible threat to baby. According to the description, Acyclovir “may cause abnormal thymus development and functional deficits…” Possible chromosome breaks are also listed as a potential threat with prolonged use. Similar information is listed for famciclovir and valacyclovir.
According to the trial, women who are pregnant should be able to take antiviral medications to treat herpes without risk to the fetus. The study reviewed records from 800,000 births between 1996 and 2008. Researchers noted no major birth defects in children born to mothers taking antiviral medications in the first three months, or first trimester, of pregnancy. Researchers went on to suggest Acyclovir as the drug obstetricians should choose because it is trusted in the medical community and use is well documented.
What Does Acyclovir Say About Use in Pregnant Women?
Information published through PubMed on Acyclovir offers very little information on pregnancy. The drug description suggests women who are pregnant contact the obstetrician immediately if they are taking the drug. Two other drugs included in the study, valacyclovir and famciclovir represented only a small portion of the drug population. These medications are not considered safe for use during pregnancy because sufficient trials have not been completed, yet the same information is available through PubMed.
Do Other Studies Back Up New Herpes Treatment Results for Pregnant Women?
This is not the first study to support Acyclovir for use in pregnant women. A study published in 2004, found no significant birth defects in the fetal population born to pregnant women using Acyclovir. No other antiviral medications were tested. Study information was collected from the Acyclovir in Pregnancy Registry between 1984 and 1998.
As is the case with every pregnancy, women need to talk with their primary obstetrician before stopping any antiviral therapy. Women taking antiviral medications for health concerns other than herpes, may also consider weighing the options of outbreak or illness verses the potential threat to the fetus.
“Herpes Drugs May Be Safe in Early Pregnancy.” WebMD – Better Information. Better Health.Web. 26 Aug. 2010
Drugs in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding : SafeFetus.com. Web. 26 Aug. 2010.
“Pregnancy Outcomes Following Systemic Prenatal Acyclovir Exposure.” PubMed. Web. 26 Aug. 2010.
“PubMed Health – Acyclovir.” Web. 26 Aug. 2010.