Captopril and Pregnancy

If you are taking captopril and pregnancy occurs, the medicine may cause temporary or permanent problems for a fetus. The medication has not been studied extensively in pregnant humans, but side effects on the fetus were seen in animal studies. Potential complications that can occur with captopril and pregnancy include developmental problems with the cardiovascular system, deformities of the head and face, and loss of life.

Captopril and Pregnancy: An Overview

For people who are pregnant, captopril (available as Capoten® and generic captopril) is usually not recommended. This is because during pregnancy, captopril can cause temporary or permanent problems, including death, to the unborn child.

Research Findings on Captopril and Pregnancy

Prior to 2006, there was a common belief among healthcare providers that problems with captopril and pregnancy were generally seen when the drug was taken during the second or third trimester. However, that changed when a study by researchers at Vanderbilt University was published in the June 2006 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. This study showed that there may, in fact, also be an increased risk to the fetus if it is exposed to captopril during the first trimester. Whether the risk to the fetus is as great in the first trimester as in the second or third trimester is not known.
Some of the complications seen with fetuses or newborns exposed to captopril during pregnancy include:
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Developmental problems with the nervous system
  • Developmental problems with the cardiovascular system (this includes the heart and/or blood vessels)
  • Developmental problems with the lungs
  • Kidney failure
  • Deformities of the head and face
  • Loss of life.
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