Metformin and Pregnancy

Doctors prescribe metformin to help lower blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics. This commonly prescribed drug is also sometimes used to treat other medical conditions associated with insulin resistance including polycystic ovary syndrome and fatty liver disease. On the other hand, not all medications are recommended during pregnancy since some can harm the growing fetus. Is metformin safe to take when a woman is pregnant?

Metformin and Pregnancy

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, metformin appears to be safe during pregnancy. In fact, this diabetes medication may be useful for treating gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes is a condition where blood sugar levels are too high during pregnancy. This is of concern since high levels of glucose can lead to a higher birth weight baby that’s more difficult to deliver. Babies who are heavier at birth are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and be overweight or obese later in life.
Traditionally, doctors have treated gestational diabetes with diet. In situations where diet wasn’t sufficient, they relied on insulin. This New England Journal of Medicine study compared metformin to insulin for treating gestational diabetes and looked at its effects on the fetus. They found that metformin was as effective as insulin for treating gestational diabetes and didn’t endanger the growing fetus.

In this study, babies born to mothers taking metformin were no more likely to have birth-related problems than moms taking insulin. Still, some doctors hesitate to prescribe it since it appears to at least partially cross the placenta and enter the bloodstream of the fetus. The FDA classifies metformin as a class B medication during pregnancy. This means animal studies show no toxicity or evidence of damage when fetuses are exposed to high doses of metformin.

Metformin May Have Other Benefits

For moms-to-be that require insulin, insulin must be injected. Metformin is a pill, which is an easier option for most women. This means better compliance.

Some women are placed on metformin by their doctor to treat polycystic ovary disease. If they become pregnant during this time, some doctors recommend that women stay on it throughout their pregnancy. Women who have polycystic ovary syndrome are at higher risk for miscarriage, and metformin helps to reduce this risk according to one study.

Metformin and Pregnancy: Is It Safe?

Research suggests that metformin is safe to take during pregnancy and doesn’t pose a risk to mother or fetus, and it may have benefits for women with polycystic ovary syndrome by reducing their risk of miscarriage. Still, more research is needed. Talk to your doctor about whether you should take metformin if you’re pregnant or plan on becoming so.