Antispasmodics

(Date: May 2017. Version: 3)

This factsheet has been written for members of the public by the UK Teratology Information Service (UKTIS). UKTIS is a not-for-profit organisation funded by Public Health England on behalf of UK Health Departments. UKTIS has been providing scientific information to health care providers since 1983 on the effects that medicines, recreational drugs and chemicals may have on the developing baby during pregnancy.

What are they?

Antispasmodics (mebeverine hydrochloride, alverine citrate, peppermint oil) are medicines used to treat the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Alverine citrate is also used in the treatment of another bowel problem called diverticular disease, and for period pain.

Is it safe to take an antispasmodic in pregnancy?

No studies have assessed the safety of antispasmodic use in pregnancy and their use is therefore generally not recommended. However, for some women whose symptoms cannot be controlled in any other way, use of an antispasmodic in pregnancy might be considered. When deciding whether or not to take an antispasmodic during pregnancy it is important to weigh up the benefits of use against the known or possible risks, some of which will depend on how many weeks pregnant you are. Your doctor is the best person to help you decide what is right for you and your baby.

What if I have already taken an antispasmodic during pregnancy?

If you are taking any medicines it is always a good idea to let your doctor know that you are pregnant so that you can decide together whether you still need the medicines that you are on and to make sure that you are taking the lowest dose that works.

Can taking an antispasmodic in pregnancy cause my baby to be born with birth defects?

A baby’s body and most internal organs are formed during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. It is mainly during this time that some medicines are known to cause birth defects.

No studies have assessed the chance of birth defects in babies born to women who took an antispasmodic in early pregnancy.

Can taking an antispasmodic in pregnancy cause miscarriage or stillbirth?

No studies have assessed the chance of miscarriage or stillbirth following antispasmodic use in pregnancy.

Can taking an antispasmodic in pregnancy cause preterm birth or my baby to be small at birth (low birth weight)?

No studies have assessed the chance of preterm birth or low birth weight in the baby following antispasmodic use in pregnancy.

Can taking an antispasmodic in pregnancy cause learning and behavioural problems in the child?

A baby’s brain continues to develop right up until the end of pregnancy. It is therefore possible that taking certain medicines at any stage of pregnancy could have a lasting effect on a child’s learning or behaviour.

No studies have been carried out to look at whether there is an increased risk of learning and behavioural problems in children who were exposed to antispasmodics while in the womb.

Will my baby need extra monitoring during pregnancy?

Most women will be offered a scan at around 20 weeks of pregnancy to look for birth defects as part of their routine antenatal care. Taking an antispasmodic in pregnancy would not be expected to cause problems that require extra monitoring of your baby.

Are there any risks to my baby if the father has taken an antispasmodic?

We would not expect any increased risk to your baby if the father took an antispasmodic before or around the time you became pregnant.

Who can I talk to if I have questions?

If you have any questions regarding the information in this leaflet please discuss them with your health care provider. They can access more detailed medical and scientific information from www.uktis.org.  

General information 

Up to 1 out of every 5 pregnancies ends in a miscarriage, and 1 in 40 babies are born with a birth defect. These are referred to as the background population risks.  They describe the chance of these events happening for any pregnancy before taking factors such as the mother’s health during pregnancy, her lifestyle, medicines she takes and the genetic make up of her and the baby’s father into account.

Medicines use in pregnancy

Most medicines used by the mother will cross the placenta and reach the baby. Sometimes this may have beneficial effects for the baby.  There are, however, some medicines that can harm a baby’s normal development.  How a medicine affects a baby may depend on the stage of pregnancy when the medicine is taken. If you are on regular medication you should discuss these effects with your doctor/health care team before becoming pregnant.

If a new medicine is suggested for you during pregnancy, please ensure the doctor or health care professional treating you is aware of your pregnancy.

When deciding whether or not to use a medicine in pregnancy you need to weigh up how the medicine might improve your and/or your unborn baby’s health against any possible problems that the drug may cause. Our bumps leaflets are written to provide you with a summary of what is known about use of a specific medicine in pregnancy so that you can decide together with your health care provider what is best for you and your baby.   

Every pregnancy is unique. The decision to start, stop, continue or change a prescribed medicine before or during pregnancy should be made in consultation with your health care provider. It is very helpful if you can record all your medication taken in pregnancy in your hand held maternity records.

   

www.medicinesinpregnancy.org

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to replace the individual care and advice of your health care provider. New information is continually becoming available. Whilst every effort will be made to ensure that this information is accurate and up to date at the time of publication, we cannot cover every eventuality and the information providers cannot be held responsible for any adverse outcomes following decisions made on the basis of this information. We strongly advise that printouts should NOT be kept for any length of time, or for “future reference” as they can rapidly become out of date.

My bump’s record

Create your own ‘My bump’s record’.

Provide information about your pregnancy to help women in the future. 

Login to my bumps

Join my bumps