As with many other drugs that are passed on from the mother to unborn fetus, Codeine use should generally be avoided during pregnancy to ensure the safety of both mother and child. At this time, the actual safety of codeine use by pregnant women has not yet been determined and therefore should be avoided whenever possible. If codeine must be taken during pregnancy, it’s important to discuss the potential risks associated with this drug use with your doctor.
Codeine may cause fetal physical dependence that can lead to withdrawal and growth retardation in some infants. Pregnant women should avoid codeine use unless it has been prescribed by a doctor who is aware of the pregnancy and who has already weighed the pros and cons of such treatment.
At this time, Codeine has been classified in pregnancy category C by the FDA. This means that the drug is known to rapidly cross the placenta and to create neonatal problems for the unborn fetus. Codeine withdrawal has occurred in infants whose mothers took codeine as a cough suppressant as little as ten days prior to delivery and studies also show that codeine has a significant association with teratogenicity which involves respiratory tract malformation.
Pregnant mothers-to-be should only take codeine if the benefits of taking the medication highly outweigh the risks associated with the drug. There are no controlled data statements or studies the focus directly on human pregnancy and codeine so, while we do know some of the facts, there is much left to be discovered about the ways that codeine use can impact an unborn child.
If you are pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant and you use codeine for pain relief, to suppress cough or for recreational purposes, it’s important to start thinking about the effects that this drug may have on your unborn baby. While there may not be concrete evidence to support the high risks that come with codeine use during pregnancy, this drug is an opiate and should be avoided whenever possible to ensure that absolute safety of yourself and your unborn child.
If you or a loved one is pregnant and considering using codeine, talk with a healthcare provider, preferably a nursing midwife or an obstetrician about the dangers of using codeine while pregnant. For help finding treatment for codeine addiction, call our helpline at 800-774-6145.