Can Metformin Cause Any Birth Defects?

Metformin, also known as glucophage, is a medication used primarily for diabetics. Metformin helps the body in the way that it processes blood sugar, and helps to keep blood sugar levels stable. Many women with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) take Metformin to address the side effects of PCOS. In fact, many women with PCOS who have trouble with infertility find that metformin actually stabilizes their ovulatory cycle enough to be able to become pregnant. Once pregnant, the obvious question is how safe metformin is during pregnancy, and whether or not metformin can cause any birth defects.

The effects of metformin during pregnancy on the unborn child are not entirely known. Little research has been done to date that describes either harm or lack of harm to the baby. Like many other medications, metformin has not yet been studied in clinical trials sufficient for the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to state whether or not it is safe to use during pregnancy. However, the research that has been done to date does appear to be promising. One study, done in 2002, suggests that metformin may reduce the risk of birth defects caused by the symptoms of PCOS by as much as 30%.

In addition to being at a higher risk for having a baby with birth defects, Women with PCOS are also particularly prone to miscarriage. They also run a higher risk of gestational diabetes, premature delivery, and high blood pressure. Research suggests that Metformin not only addresses the problems of PCOS in terms of fertility, but that Metformin may actually reduce the risk of these other problems. Because metformin can help a woman to balance out those hormone levels, it could actually reduce the number of miscarriages caused by PCOS during pregnancy. Here again, there is not enough research to say conclusively that this is the case.

As with any medication, whether it is prescription or over-the-counter, you should consult with your health care provider about taking metformin during pregnancy. If you have diabetes and use metformin to control your blood sugar, your health care provider may wish to control your blood sugar during pregnancy through the use of an altered diet, or perhaps with the use of insulin. It is imperative that you closely monitor and control your blood sugar levels during pregnancy. Problems with blood sugar levels can lead to your baby having low or high blood sugar levels, gaining too much weight, or having a variety of birth defects.


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