Prenatal Supplements: Uses, Risks and How to Stay Safe While Taking Them

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Prenatal supplements are commonplace in the life of women who are pregnant or ready to conceive. Offering your baby the best conditions for healthy development is what all mothers want. However, even if a rich and balanced diet with vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients is the surefire way to ensure your baby’s thriving, sometimes pregnancy depletes you of some critical nutrients. It is where prenatal supplements come in. They bridge the gap and offer your baby everything a regular diet cannot. But what are the benefits, risks, and other uses of prenatal vitamins? Let’s learn more today!

The Most Common Prenatal Supplements You Can Take

Women who are pregnant or during prenatal care can receive recommendations of prenatal supplements from their doctors and O.B./GYNs. Usually, prenatal supplements represent a mix of essential vitamins, minerals, even fats or protein that ensure proper and healthy fetal development. You can get prenatal supplements over the counter in almost any pharmacy. You can take a specific brand/mix of nutrients recommended by your doctor, or you can choose what to consume.

One recommendation that stands out among professionals is that women who want to have children should take prenatal supplements before they become pregnant.

According to the C.D.C., the best course of action for women of reproductive age is to consume folic acid every day, so they prevent congenital diseases in their babies, such as spina bifida or anencephaly. Such congenital disabilities have a severe impact on the baby’s spinal cord and developing brain. Most doctors recommend new mothers to continue taking prenatal supplements after the baby’s delivery, especially if they are going to breastfeed.

In the fetal developmental timeframe, mothers need more than just folic acid. Experts in prenatal and postnatal care also recommend the following supplements, vitamins, and nutrients:

  • Iron. It supports the healthy development of the placenta and the fetus;
  • Calcium and vitamin D. They help accumulate, absorb, and stabilize the necessary calcium levels for your baby’s healthy growth of bones and teeth;
  • Vitamins A, C, E, and some B vitamins are common ingredients in most prenatal supplements;
  • Omega 3-fatty acids. Your doctor might prescribe them for the healthy development of your child’s brain development, especially if your regular diet is not rich in fish and foods high in omega-3;
  • Iodine and zinc for normal growth and proper functioning of the thyroid gland, etc.

Are Prenatal Supplements As Safe in Real Life as They Are on Paper?

What most women do not know is that most prenatal supplements are over the counter medicine that does not go through any F.D.A. regulation, and they do not even have to. Just like many weight-loss drugs, the agency does not test and approve, but only a handful of such supplements. For this reason, there is always a risk of side effects, adverse reactions, and drug injuries.

Some of the most common prenatal vitamins associated with side effects and adverse reactions include (without excluding):

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and other gastrointestinal issues;
  • Too much folic acid could also lead to adverse conditions, such as flushing, bloating and gas, sleepiness, exhaustion or depression, or, on the contrary, irritability, and agitation;
  • Sometimes, an excess of vitamin A during pregnancy can lead to harms to the fetal development of your baby;
  • Some prenatal vitamins can do you more harm than good in the sense that they can worsen the symptoms of some pre-existing health conditions. Adverse reactions such as severe allergy flairs, bleeding, or kidney problems can turn into life-threatening conditions in correlation with prenatal supplements;
  • In some cases, prenatal supplements can enter a conflict with other medications you might be taking, such as painkillers or antibiotics.

The issue of prenatal supplements’ safety lies with the lack of federal standards and regulatory procedures. In simpler words, you have to trust the manufacturers, the doctors, and the pharmacists for recommending you the best prenatal supplements for your needs.

In case, by an unfortunate turn of events, your prenatal supplements caused you harm, you have plenty of legal options for a medication mix-up or even a medication error. Your physician or even pharmacist could prescribe you the wrong type of supplement to take. Sometimes, health practitioners could give you incorrect information on how to take a supplement when you have comorbidities or specific health issues they know of but disregard. You most likely need an attorney to consult you and help you learn if you have a case of drug injury or medical malpractice.

In any case, when you are expecting or planning to conceive, the last thing on your mind is the side effects of prenatal supplements. As with anything, too much of something does not lead to good results. Besides, most health experts recommend you to take the safest route possible.

Who Else Can Take Prenatal Supplements?

While the C.D.C. recommends all women of childbearing age to take folic acid and choose rich and balanced diets before conceiving, other people can take prenatal supplements and vitamins. Many doctors and nutritionists recommend them to improve some patients’ state of health. Here are some examples:

  • For iron deficiency anemia, some doctors prescribe prenatal supplements with high concentrations of iron;
  • Prenatal supplements can also enter the daily routines of people who had weight loss surgery, manifest Crohn’s disease or other illnesses that affect the absorption of nutrients into their bodies, smoke, used or abused illicit drugs, etc.
  • Some physicians also recommend prenatal supplements to vegans, teenagers who display nutrient deficiencies during their growth period, or individuals with lactase deficiency.

No matter the reasons why you take prenatal supplements, you should always be aware of their potential side effects and how to avoid them.

What to Do to Avoid Prenatal Supplements’ Side Effects

The first thing you should do when planning to take prenatal supplements before conceiving is to have a thorough discussion with your physician regarding what supplements you need and for what purposes. You might not remember this, but back in 2009, the F.D.A. recalled to the manufacturer’s level a handful of prescription prenatal vitamin and iron supplement products.

The lesson here is that even if regulated and doctor-prescribed medication promises miracles, you should still check out those drugs against the F.D.A.’s MedWatch Safety Alerts program. Most of the time, non-regulated supplements (for weight loss, immunity, or prenatal care) encounter contaminants.

Sometimes, the manufacturer misdesigns the products, making larger pills that the ones described on the label and thus delivering higher doses to patients. In some conditions, drug companies can also offer insufficient material and details on side effects, dosages, interactions, and more in their informational leaflets coming with the drugs.

For many of these reasons, in the practice of law, attorneys deal significantly with drug injury lawsuits, defective drugs, and even malpractice cases.

  • You want your baby to be safe, so check any prenatal supplement you want to take over the counter against your doctor and the F.D.A.’s database.
  • Moreover, in case you experience some mild but uncomfortable side effects of iron supplements (like constipation, for instance), talk to your doctor about making some dietary and lifestyle changes.

Bottom Line

Prenatal supplements are generally safe, and millions of women all over the world take them without fearing any devastating consequence. Nevertheless, staying safe for the sake of your health and the baby’s development is always the wisest way to proceed to a happy and fulfilling pregnancy and delivery.




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