Pregnant women must be careful of caffeine, tobacco, alcohol and certain medication.(Gallo)

Pregnant? Five things to think twice about before taking

Amy Green
Seemingly safe substances like aspirin could harm your unborn baby.

1. Caffeine
Research links excess caffeine during pregnancy and miscarriage. Studies recommend women drink less than 200 milligrams of caffeine a day (roughly two cups of coffee), or the caffeine could cross the placenta barrier, increasing the fetus's heart rate to dangerous levels.

2. Antidepressants
There is a very low risk of birth defects if women take antidepressant medication while pregnant. The risks of antidepressants are usually outweighed by the benefit they have for the mother. Untreated depression can lead to risky behaviour such as consuming alcohol and smoking. The risk to depressed mothers who avoid treatment and fail to get the nutrition and healthcare they need outweighs any concerns. 

3. Alcohol
Many women think one drink "isn't likely to hurt your baby" but studies show "even moderate drinking" can affect a baby's brain development. This could lead to a range of problems including miscarriage or fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, "which can cause facial deformities, heart defects and mental" underdevelopment. 

4. Tobacco
Smoking or being exposed to second-hand smoke when pregnant can result in health risks such as low birth weight and premature delivery. Research estimates that one in every five babies born to a mother who smokes will be underweight. The baby is also at a higher risk of asthma, ear infections, colds, pneumonia and bronchitis. 

5. Over-the-counter medication
Aspirin, a common and cheap painkiller, is not considered safe to take during pregnancy. Low doses aren't linked to many health issues but high doses, especially in the first three months of pregnancy, are associated with miscarriage and heart defects in the fetus. A similar but safe alternative painkiller is acetaminophen — especially for women who use aspirin regularly for conditions like clotting disorders. — Source: Mayo Clinic


For a weekly update of the best health news on the continent sign up for our newsletter here

Have something to say? Tweet or Facebook us on @Bhekisisa_MG

pregnancyfoetal-alcohol-syndromecaffeine