Taking Vyvanse While Pregnant: Is It Safe?Alyssa
Should a woman stop taking ADHD medication during pregnancy? Is taking Vyvanse while pregnant safe? If you or someone you know is an expecting mother who’s accustomed to taking prescription medication for attention-hyperactivity deficit disorder (ADHD) like Vyvanse, these questions are critical. Women with ADHD who become pregnant must decide whether to remain on the medication or cease their use for nine months. Although there’s no clear-cut answer, today we’re looking into whether taking Vyvanse is safe during pregnancy and offer you more information to discuss with your doctor.
What Is Vyvanse?
Vyvanse is the brand name for lisdexamfetamine, a central nervous system stimulant that’s normally prescribed to treat ADHD and sometimes binge eating disorder. Vyvanse works by affecting chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters that contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control. It’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved to treat ADHD in adults and children who are at least 6 years of age.
Vyvanse mitigates common ADHD symptoms like impulsiveness, disorganization, poor time management skills, and difficulty focusing and concentrating specifically by altering the levels of neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine. While dopamine improves mood and produces a sense of well-being, norepinephrine plays a role in regulating physical and psychological functions ranging from heart rate and breathing to the fight-or-flight response.
Of course, this medication doesn’t come without some unwanted side effects. Common lisdexamfetamine side effects include:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Stomach pain
- Dry mouth
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Trouble sleeping
Due to its impact on dopamine, Vyvanse also has a potential for abuse and addiction. To avoid these complications, it’s important to take Vyvanse as prescribed and to avoid sharing it with others or taking someone else’s prescription drugs. Also, avoid mixing Vyvanse with alcohol or other drugs.
Can You Take Vyvanse While Pregnant?
Is taking Vyvanse during pregnancy safe, and if not, how should ADHD be treated during pregnancy? These are common questions that expecting mothers with ADHD might ask, and rightfully so. Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut answer.
Although Vyvanse and other ADHD medications have not been proven to be safe to take during pregnancy by the FDA, they’re also not proven to be harmful. ADHD medications like Vyvanse fall into category C of pregnancy drugs as determined by the FDA. This means that while there might be evidence that Vyvanse is dangerous to take while pregnant in animal studies, there are no well-controlled human studies to indicate the safety or risk of the situation.
This means that with category C drugs like Vyvanse, doctors might still advise pregnant women to use it if the benefits of the medication outweigh the possible risks. In the case of Vyvanse and pregnancy, doctors might determine whether the patient should continue taking this drug based on their best knowledge of what other physicians do and the outcomes that have been documented of similar situations or “best practices.”
Physicians must educate patients, make reasonable recommendations based on their symptoms and their health, and act based on collaborative decisions that have been made by other doctors in the same situation. Treatment should strike a balance between safety and the needs of the mother. Many women may also decide whether they want to take Vyvanse while pregnant in consultation with their partners, as well.
Vyvanse and Pregnancy: What Are the Risks?
Although we know that any medication a mother takes while pregnant can pass through the placenta to the fetus, researchers from the FDA and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are still working to obtain a clear understanding of the effects of Vyvanse use during pregnancy. With that said, we can assume that there are plenty of indirect risks of taking Vyvanse while pregnant and even when breastfeeding.
For instance, Vyvanse can decrease your appetite, which can lead to inadequate nutrition, which, of course, can be risky for you and your unborn baby. Stimulants like Vyvanse can also increase heart rate and blood pressure, which can increase the risk of certain complications while pregnant.
For example, one study on the effects of stimulants used during pregnancy found that the use of amphetamines and stimulants during pregnancy increases the risk of placental hemorrhage (abruption), which is when the placenta separates from the inner wall of the uterus before birth. Placental abruption can cut off nutrients and oxygen supply to the baby and cause heavy bleeding in the mother.1
Research also shows that children exposed to amphetamine during pregnancy show decreased arousal, increased stress, decreased school achievements, movement disturbances, and low birth weight (a high-risk factor for special needs programs at school age). These children also had lower scores on sustained attention, long-term spatial and verbal memory, and visual-motor integration.2 Considering that lisdexamfetamine is derived from amphetamine, these risks are important to consider if you’re an expecting mother with ADHD.
There’s also the added risk of withdrawal symptoms occurring with neonatal stimulant exposure. Neonatal abstinence syndrome from Vyvanse occurs when babies are exposed to the drug during pregnancy. Symptoms of newborn withdrawal from Vyvanse include trouble feeding, distress, irritability, and extreme drowsiness. It’s also recommended that Vyvanse use be avoided while breastfeeding to avoid passing the medication onto the baby.
Additionally, the risks of taking Vyvanse while trying to conceive aren’t entirely clear, but judging from what we do now, it’s better to be cautious. If you’ve been prescribed Vyvanse and are trying to get pregnant, speak to your doctor about the best course of action. Do not stop taking Vyvanse or change your doses without speaking to your doctor first.
Help for Vyvanse Abuse
Vyvanse is addictive when abused or misused, and the risk of addiction is just as high among expecting mothers as any other patient. Sadly, many pregnant women also struggle with addiction. If you or a loved one has developed a dependency on Vyvanse, our drug and alcohol treatment center in Palm Beach can help.
We offer prescription drug addiction treatment programs to help people addicted to drugs like Vyvanse physically and mentally recover. Although they’re prescribed, ADHD medications and other stimulants change the chemical balance in the brain, which can make it difficult for someone who’s addicted to quit on their own.
But no matter how severe your drug use has become, our BHOPB team is here to help. Call Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches today at 561-220-3981 to learn more about our addiction treatment in Lake Worth.
- NCBI – Developmental Consequences of Fetal Exposure to Drugs: What We Know and What We Still Must Learn
- NCBI – Prenatal exposure to drugs: effects on brain development and implications for policy and education