Wellbutrin during pregnancy
Wellbutrin is the brand name for Bupropion Hydrochloride, a form of antidepressant (also under another name Zyban - a stop smoking aid). Wellbutrin is more unique as an antidepressant because its chemical make up differs from the other available antidepressants and it has different side effects compared to other antidepressants. This means it may work for people who have struggled and failed with the other medications that they have taken in the past. There has been more cases of Wellbutrin causing seizures over the other side effects it may or may not cause. Seizures were more commonly associated with patients who were taking doses of Wellbutrin that were above the current recommended maximum daily dose (which is 450 mg per day) or had a history of seizures, heavy alcohol use, or taking other medications that also increased the risk of having a seizure.
Wellbutrin is also prescribed to women who are suffering from pregnancy depression or postpartum depression (after giving birth). If you believe you are depressed and plan to be with child, breastfeeding or already pregnant it is always wise to consult your healthcare provider before taking any form of prescribed drug since some side effects may be fatal to the unborn child.
This antidepressant is classified as a Pregnancy Category C by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA). Category C is the risk level that a specific medicine has on the fetus when it is taken during pregnancy. This category level also means the specific drug has been tested on animals (mostly rats and rabbits) more so than humans. As with many drugs, Wellbutrin does cause birth defects, the chances according to studies are very slim. Some defects that have been found are: heart defects, Klinefelter's syndrome (occurring 1 in 1,000 male births. It is when male babies are born with an extra X chromosome, it can effect the development of the testicles and reduce fertility rate), and bilateral club feet (it is a common birth defect that can happen even when you are not on any medication, it occurs about 1 in 1,000 births). There has been documented cases of women using Wellbutrin during pregnancy with very few harmful results to the fetus or baby. Other studies show the use of Wellbutrin had no ill effects at all during pregnancy. If Wellbutrin's benefits outweigh the risks to the unborn child, then it will be prescribed to the expectant mother.
If you are considering breastfeeding your child when it is born and you are using Wellbutrin, let your healthcare provider know, because Wellbutrin does get excreted into breast milk. Tests have been done on breastfed infants where the mother is being treated for depression with Wellbutrin and the results showed no concentrated levels of the drug in the infant; although, the actual effects of Wellbutrin on nursing infants is unknown. With this in mind, your healthcare provider will know which option is best for you - to continue on your treatment, stop treatment or not to breastfeed (they will know best and will base this decision on the importance of the drug to you).
Remember, breastfeeding is important because it is healthy for you and your infant. The most important fact about breastfeeding is that it is a natural food source for your infant, and that it has far better nutritional health benefits versus using formula. For example, formula helps to protect the infant from infections or other serious illnesses that breast milk does. It strengthens the immune system of the baby by transferring the mother's antibodies to the baby. Another benefit of breastfeeding is a reduced risk of getting food allergies. A benefit for the mother for breastfeeding is that it helps you recover from the stress of being pregnant and being in labor, and the delivery. One last beneficial fact of breastfeeding, this is for the mother, is that is reduces the chance of developing breast cancer and diabetes. With all of this in mind, there is a lot to consider if you are on Wellbutrin and plan to breastfeed your child.
In conclusion, Wellbutrin is an unique antidepressants and if the benefits of its effects on the mother with child outweight the risks of damaging the fetus or infant, then it may be prescribed to you. Always take care when taking a medication new to you; always ask your healthcare provider for the best advice because they will always lead you in the best direction. Also be sure to let them know if you are on any other medications when you are deciding whether or not to be on Wellbutrin (they will ask), because there are other drugs that cannot be taken with it (other medications sometimes can change the effects Wellbutrin has on you, as for which drugs do this ask about this as well). All in all, your healthcare provider is your best source of information for trying or seeking information on medication and they will give the best professional answers.