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Decadron and Pregnancy

In studies on the active ingredient in Decadron (dexamethasone), a cleft palate and multiple birth defects occurred in the offspring when the drug was given to pregnant animals. However, this medicine has not been studied adequately in pregnant women. Therefore, Decadron should only be given during pregnancy if the benefits to the mother outweigh the risks to the unborn child.

Can Pregnant Women Use Decadron?

Decadron® (dexamethasone) is a prescription corticosteroid (steroid) medication. Based on the results of animal studies, this medication may not be safe for use in pregnant women, although the full risks are still unknown.

What Is Pregnancy Category C?

Decadron is classified as a pregnancy Category C drug. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses a category system to classify the possible risks to a fetus when a specific medicine is taken during pregnancy. Pregnancy Category C is given to medicines that have not been adequately studied in pregnant humans but have caused fetal harm in animal studies.
In addition, medicines that have not been studied in any pregnant women or animals are automatically given a pregnancy Category C rating.
In animal studies, dexamethasone, the active ingredient in Decadron, increased the risk for cleft palate when given to pregnant mice, rats, and rabbits. In addition, applying dexamethasone to the eyes of pregnant mice and rabbits caused cleft palate in the mice offspring and multiple birth defects in the rabbits.
However, it is important to note that animals do not always respond to medicines in the same way that humans do. Therefore, pregnancy Category C medicines, including Decadron, may be given to a pregnant woman if her healthcare provider believes that the benefits of the medication outweigh any possible risks to her unborn child.
Decadron has not been adequately studied in pregnant women. Large observational studies suggest that steroids, such as dexamethasone, may increase the risk for cleft palate or similar birth defects when used by pregnant women in the first trimester.
Some sources list dexamethasone as a pregnancy Category D medication when used in the first trimester. Pregnancy Category D is a classification given to medicines that have been shown to present a risk to the fetus in studies of pregnant women but may still offer benefits that outweigh the risks the drug presents. A pregnancy Category D medicine may still be given to a pregnant woman if the healthcare provider believes that the benefits to the woman outweigh the possible risks to the unborn child.
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Decadron Medication Information

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