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When planning to start a family, you may question the safety of over-the-counter or prescription drugs. It is important to know the risks of taking certain medications.

When possible, think ahead. It is best to address questions about medications and vitamins before you are pregnant. Ask your healthcare provider first about the over-the-counter medications you currently use. These include drugs for everyday conditions, such as heartburn, allergies, or headaches. In addition, check with your healthcare provider about any prescription medications you are taking. Both types of medications may need to be either discontinued or changed before you get pregnant.

Because of fear of harming the unborn baby, drug companies cannot test new medication on pregnant women. We learn about these effects in women who take over-the-counter medication or must stay on their prescription medications while they are pregnant.

Currently, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that drugs be categorized according to their risk to pregnant women. The FDA uses Pregnancy Exposure Registries to help women and health professionals learn about the effects of medications on pregnancy. These registries record reported incidents of negative or positive reaction of medications in pregnant women. You can register and find information at the FDA website.