Harmful Drugs in Pregnancy: Be careful with this medications

There are a number of Harmful Drugs in Pregnancy that can cause harm and defects in the unborn baby in the womb. In general drugs should not be used during pregnancy unless absolutely necessary and under the guidance of your doctor.

About 2-3% of all birth defects result from drugs that are taken during pregnancy especially during the 1st trimester. An example is a drug like the popular tetracycline that is commonly taken, and some of our parents use it to avoid being pressed or going to toilet, especially during a travel.

These drugs when taken, especially during first trimester has been known to interfere with the process by which the baby is formed, thereby causing some organs or parts to not form fully, or not form at all.
Pregnant women taking this drugs without the guidance of their doctor can run the risk of giving birth to children who are either deformed, blind, deaf or other possible defects like those of the heart, brain or any other body organs.

You should avoid this list of drugs below.

Harmful Drugs in Pregnancy

Some common but harmful drugs in pregnancy includes:


This are drugs produced to fight and kill certain bacteria’s that cause different infections in the body. Example of these drugs that are not good for pregnant women are:


Chloramphenicol is an antibiotic that used to treat several bacterial infections, like meningitis, typhoid, etc. it is one of the Harmful Drugs in Pregnancy, It is also commonly prescribed as an Eye drop for various eye conditions like conjunctivitis. When taken, the drug has been known to cause blood disorders and what is known as “Grey Baby Syndrome”.
What happens in the Grey Baby Syndrome is that, the high levels of this chloramphenicol in the blood would lead to circulatory collapse in premature and newborn infants. Babies with this condition would have an ashen-gray color, abdominal swelling, vomiting, bluish or darkend lips, circulatory collapse, and death.

Harmful Drugs in Pregnancy
Grey Baby Syndrome. Image credits: Mom Junction

Ciprofloxacin and Levofloxacin

This is one of the most commonly abused drugs in the country. When people go to chemist shops/pharmacy and they complain of having fever, the chemists just dash them a mixture of this and other drugs.

However, what pregnancy women needs to known is that, these drugs can cause problems with babies muscles and joints. In addition to that, they can cause you to have a MISCARRIAGE or some serious bleeding disorder in your child.

The next time you are pregnant, do not go to a chemist without first getting a prescription from the doctor on what drug is safe for both you and your child for a particular condition you are having, and do not take drugs that was prescribed for another person, even though your symptoms may be similar.


Tetracycline is one of the Harmful Drugs in Pregnancy. The common type of this drug in our country is the one in a yellow & red tube that has about 10 pieces in a pack. Some parents use this drug as an anti-motility drug. That is, they use it to prevent themselves or their children from having to poop, especially if they plan to travel, whereas, this is not why the drug was made.

Harmful Drugs in Pregnancy

However, studies have shown that, Tetracycline can cause yellow/brown discoloration of the teeth and it can also cause great harm to your unborn baby, especially if taken during the first trimester.

Run away from this drug to avoid stories that touch.


This is an antibiotic that is commonly used in the treatment of Tuberculosis. It is one of the very harmful drugs in pregnancy, where it can cause deafness to the unborn child.

So the next time you try to imagine why a child was born deaf or blind, think back to the drugs you took in your first trimester of pregnancy.

There are so many others, but we cannot cover everything in one write up, else, it would be too long to read.
Don’t abuse antibiotics and don’t take any during pregnancy UNLESS prescribed by a DOCTOR!

Pain Relief Drugs

These are the second class of commonly taken drugs that can cause problems with your pregnancy & unborn child. This drugs were made to relive pain in some chronic inflammatory conditions, but excessive use of them in normal persons can lead to Liver disease, stomach ulcer among other conditions, and in pregnant women, can cause harm to both the mother and/or child.
Some examples of Harmful Drugs in Pregnancy in this category are;


This is a commonly abused pain medication. It is one of the very harmful drugs in pregnancy, where it can either cause a miscarriage to the woman, or in the baby, it can lead to the development of congenital defects or bleeding in the brain of the premature baby.


Also another common pain medication that has been known to cause peptic ulcer in normal people. It is one of the very harmful drugs in pregnancy, where it can either cause a reduction in the amniotic fluid of the mother in pregnancy. The amniotic fluid is very important for the baby, to allow the baby turn around easily with hurting themselves, and also, it is where the baby drink from and pee into. Hence, a reduction of this amniotic fluid (what we call oligohydraminos) is bad for the baby.
This drug also can increases the baby’s risk of being asthmatic

No matter how severe the pain you might be having may be, please, for the sake of your unborn child, first see a doctor for prescription.


These are drugs taken by people who have been diagnosed to have Hypertension. It helps them to manage their high blood pressure, and prevents complications that comes with it, like stroke, blindness, etc.
Examples of Harmful Drugs in Pregnancy in this category are:

  1. Amlodipine
  2. Lisinopril
  3. Enalapril etc

These drugs have the followong effect on the Unborn baby:

  1. Can cause Kidney damage
  2. Reduce amniotic fluid which as we have explained earlier is not good for the baby.
  3. Can cause Defects to the lungs, face and limbs
  4. Can also cause serious injuries to the baby.

There are good drugs for hypertension in pregnancy, and you should see your doctor to chose the best for you, which he/she would do after assessing your condition.

Do not use another persons drugs. No two persons are the same.

Acne Drugs

This are drugs used to treat pimples. Changes in the body hormones during pregnancy can cause a breakout of pimples on the woman’s face.

Please if you’re pregnant or you intend to be, please avoid Isotertinon (Accutane). It is one of the very harmful drugs in pregnancy, where it has been known to cause birth defects. The pimples will clear by themselves after pregnancy, don’t damage your child pleaae.


These are drugs used in controlling seizures (convulsion). Example of these drugs includes: Carbamazepine, Phenobarbital, Phenytoin, Valproate.

Their effect on the Unborn Baby are:

  1. Causes Bleeding problems: a condition where if a person sustains an injury, the blood would not stop coming out. It can continue till the person bleeds to death.
  2. Spina Bifida: this is a condition of the spine at the back, where the bone in that spinal cord region did not join together. Hence, you may notice an opening there, and some things (spinal cord or meninges) may be coming out from there. It is a very serious condition.
  3. Cleft palate: this is a condition of the mouth where the child would have a defect in the mouth either in the upper or lower lip.
  4. Heart, skull, Limbs and spine defect

We can write a 50 page explanation on drugs and still yet, we won’t be able to exhaust these drugs.


These drugs depending on quantity and efficacy can HARM you. See your doctor whenever you have any pressing medical need.


  • Pharm. Emeri Chukwuenyem Dozen

    Pharm. Emeri Chukwuenyem Dozen holds a B.Pharm degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNN, in Enugu State, Nigeria. He is a public health advocate and a lover of sports.

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  • Dr. Echibuogu Nelson Tochukwu

    Dr. Echibuogu Nelson Tochukwu currently works as a medical officer at Prince Of Peace Specialist Hospital in Lagos. He holds an MBBS Degree from the Abia State University. He is a story teller, script writer and a lover of sport. You can follow him on twitter below.

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