Pain Home > Vicodin and Pregnancy

In animal studies, Vicodin increased the risk of various birth defects, such as cranial defects. Some human studies also have shown that Vicodin may increase the risk of similar birth defects. If you take the drug during the later stages of pregnancy, Vicodin could potentially cause narcotic withdrawal in your infant after delivery, leading to symptoms such as fast breathing, vomiting, and fever.

I'm Pregnant -- Can I Take Vicodin?

Vicodin® (hydrocodone/APAP) is a prescription pain medication. Based on animal studies (and limited human studies), the drug may not be safe for use during pregnancy.

What Is Pregnancy Category C?

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 that do appear to cause harm to the fetus in animal studies. Also, medicines that have not been studied in any pregnant women or animals are automatically given a pregnancy Category C rating.
When given to pregnant hamsters, a single dose of hydrocodone (one of the components of Vicodin) increased the risk of birth defects, including cranial defects. Limited human studies also indicate that Vicodin may increase the risk of similar birth defects. Hydrocodone is a narcotic, and using this drug during the end of a pregnancy may cause narcotic withdrawal in the infant after delivery. Such withdrawal symptoms may include:
  • Irritability and excessive crying
  • Shakiness (tremors)
  • Hyperactive reflexes
  • Fast breathing
  • Increased stools
  • Sneezing
  • Yawning
  • Vomiting
  • Fever.
However, pregnancy Category C medicines, including Vicodin, may be given to a pregnant woman if her healthcare provider believes that the benefits to the woman outweigh any possible risks to the unborn child.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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