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Dangers of Using Concerta While Pregnant

Attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a condition characterized by inattentive and impulsive behaviors like hyperactivity. The condition starts early in childhood and persists over time. In medical history, the condition was described as a childhood condition. However, 15% of children diagnosed with ADHD will still possess symptoms at 25 years old.

If you’re an expecting mother, you may wonder how ADHD medicine could impact your baby. It’s understandable that you’d want to do everything possible to ensure that the pregnancy goes to full term and your baby is healthy. To this end, you may stop taking some of the medications used to suppress your ADHD symptoms.

For most mothers, correctly using ADHD medication during pregnancy is the best course of action. In fact, it’s often a bad idea to suddenly stop treatment during pregnancy. However, abusing ADHD medication, such as Concerta, could lead to side effects.


Concerta is a stimulant medication that treats ADHD as well as sleep disorders. It’s also used to lower appetite levels and treat attention deficit disorder, or ADD. The drug is made up of a chemical compound known as methylphenidate, and it has been known to have certain effects on pregnancies.

Drugs can only get across the placenta if they are lipid-soluble, are not protein-bound, and have a long half-life. Concerta does not exhibit any of those characteristics, so the drug likely won’t affect the fetus, but higher amounts of methylphenidate might present a risk.

Some of the common side effects of Concerta are:

  • Headache
  • Stomach pain
  • Sleeplessness
  • Lowered appetite
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Dizziness
  • Allergic reactions

Concerta Addiction and Pregnancies

Someone who uses Concerta for ADHD and is planning to become pregnant should consult their doctor before switching or ending medication. Studies on lab animals showed that Concerta abuse could affect a fetus. Researchers linked high doses of the drug in animals to malformations. These observations were on rats and rabbits.

In studies, exposure to methylphenidate caused the neglect of pregnancy care and poor maternal health. Therefore, being addicted to Concerta could impact the outcome of a pregnancy. However, mothers taking the drug under medical prescription are less likely to overuse the drug.

Heart defects are one of the main dangers of abusing Concerta while pregnant. In lab studies, infants born to a mother who took Concerta in the first trimester had an increased risk of heart defects. Researchers observed congenital heart defects, and mothers had an increased risk of developing preeclampsia.

Preeclampsia is a risky complication during pregnancy that causes swelling in hands and feet, protein in the urine and high blood pressure. Premature birth is also a possibility for mothers who abuse the drug while they are pregnant. When the child is born, the Concerta assimilated in the womb could cause limb malformations, asphyxia and growth retardation.

Babies exposed to the stimulants such as Concerta might show signs of withdrawal once they are born. They will likely have a low birth weight, and the drug’s use increases the chances of pre-term delivery. The withdrawal effects in newborn infants in studies were evidenced by jitteriness, respiratory distress and drowsiness. For the mothers, complications included preeclampsia, placental abruption, gestational hypertension and intrauterine fetal death.

For the exposed children at age 3, there were more attention and behavioral problems. Children at the age of 5 may have increased anxiety along with externalizing and attention problems. Older 5 to 6-year-old children with exposure to the drug during pregnancy could display reduced inhibitory control. Children exposed to high doses of the drug had a higher rate of ADHD at older ages with some having cognitive impairment.

Some of the other dangers of addiction become more apparent after delivery. Bonding becomes more complicated, and the mother could have a challenge coping with her new status. Post-natal depression is common if the drug was discontinued without the proper consent from a doctor.

If Concerta is taken only in small doses and not abused, levels of methylphenidate in the mother’s system are low. In many cases, the effects of the methylphenidate are not detected in the baby’s blood or the mother’s milk. The baby grows up normal in the majority of these cases.

Lactation and Concerta

After delivery, babies will be dependent on breast milk until they can ingest stronger foods. If the mother has been abusing Concerta, problems could arise during breastfeeding.

The concentration of a drug in breast milk depends on various factors like:

  • Maternal dosage
  • Absorption rate
  • Drug metabolism
  • Time of breastfeeding

Breastfeeding the child five hours after administration of the maternal dose does not affect the infant. There are usually no traces of Concerta in breast milk as it has all been metabolized.

The soluble nature of Concerta and its low molecular weight allows for it to enter breast milk. With a relative dose of 0.7% for the infant, there is little infant exposure when lactating. Research has confirmed that relative doses that are less than 10% are safe during breastfeeding. The infant will be safe, and the effects of the drug will not get to them. Cognitive tests one year after birth showed that development was in the normal range.

Effects of Concerta on Infant Brain

Theoretically, methylphenidate can cross the placenta. However, the effects on the unborn child’s developing brain are still unknown, and the risk remains undetermined. The born child will likely be normal, but the exposure to the drug will be unknown.

Level of Care for the Infant

Mothers with ADHD will likely have more challenges during pregnancy and lactation. Due to the nature of the condition, mothers could have problems getting to doctor appointments on time. They may also have issues following the correct routine for childcare. Balancing their child’s needs with their ADHD symptoms and physical health will also be another challenge for the mother. Mental illness is also an important factor for infant outcomes and maternal mortality.

Dangers of Interrupting or Continuing ADHD Treatment During Pregnancy

Typically, physicians will interrupt pharmacological treatment during pregnancy and subsequent lactation. Continuing ADHD treatment during pregnancy is a challenging issue, and more research is needed to establish the safety of Concerta for pregnancy and lactation. That’s why it’s important for expecting mothers taking the drug to address their unique situation with a doctor.

It will be important to have pharmacokinetic profiling of the drugs. The profiling will assess the drug exposure to the child. Before such research is fully carried out, physicians need to individually take care of each case and make informed decisions about the risk of stopping or continuing ADHD treatment for pregnant mothers.

Adults with ADHD typically have difficulties at work, an increased tendency to abuse substances and an increased risk of antisocial behavior. ADHD can cause a huge economic burden that is made worse with inadequate treatment. As such, most expecting mothers need to continue ADHD treatment that will help manage the pregnancy.

Treatment Center: Granite Recovery Center

Concerta addiction can cause the drug concentration in the body to be very high due to heavy usage. The high concentrations increase the likelihood of the child getting exposed to a higher dosage of the drug. After birth, the child could manifest many of the drug’s typical withdrawal symptoms, and their early childhood development will be affected. The best way to avoid passing the drug’s effects on the unborn baby is by controlling the drug’s use before getting pregnant. It will keep the baby safe, and they have a greater likelihood of growing up normal without the side effects of Concerta.

Granite Recovery CenterGranite Recovery Centeroffers resources to help individuals overcome Concerta addiction. The patients can control their intake rates and learn tools to reduce usage or stop altogether when they intend to get pregnant.

Pregnant mothers are always cautious about the risks that their ADHD medication will have on their child. Getting the necessary help during the pregnancy is very useful. It ensures that the mother carries the baby to full term without exposing them to the potentially risky chemicals in their medication.

Treatment for ADHD at Granite Recovery Center also helps patients control the levels of Concerta in the body. An individual can thus better control the drug levels in her blood until she can comfortably carry a baby to full term. The mother can give birth to a healthy baby safely without passing on withdrawal symptoms to the child.

Managing ADHD During Pregnancy

Reducing the levels of the drugs used to treat and manage ADHD in the body is important. It makes the mother safer so that maternal dosages of medication will not be passed to the child. Monitoring for Concerta usage after delivery also ensures that the lactating mother does not pass the drug to the child via the milk.

The maternal use of ADHD medication while pregnant has different outcomes for different mothers, so it’s always vital to have a doctor’s supervision throughout the pregnancy. The abuse of ADHD medication increases the child’s chances to be admitted to a NICU at birth. The exposure depends on the drug levels in the mother’s blood, and exposure during pregnancy could increase the risk of different disorders for the child.

Attention to the mother is required throughout the pregnancy period. It will ensure that the mother adheres to the medication as prescribed and does not skip their daily doses. With this routine in place, they will be in a better state of mind and mental condition to care for their baby. It will also prepare them more adequately for the delivery.

A proper regimen of care ensures that the mother gets enough psychological and medical attention while getting ready to give birth. She should be properly monitored all the months before the delivery and given all the necessary support. Mothers who have their ADHD symptoms managed will also be more likely to recover quickly after the pregnancy to take care of their child.

Recovering From Concerta Addiction

Overcoming an addiction to Concerta is challenging, but it’s essential during pregnancy. This is the only way to ensure that Concerta withdrawal symptoms are not evident in the child after birth. By reducing the unborn child’s risk, there are higher chances that they will have normal early childhood development. They will be much more likely to have a normal brain and mental development.

Granite Recovery Center is well-equipped for treating addiction. You can recover much faster when you are in an environment synonymous with peace, comfort and tranquility. Our staff can help you with Concerta and ADHD treatment for a better life for your unborn baby. We are always available through our website and ready to give you the information you need. Onboarding to our treatment programs is easy, and the programs are designed to be friendly and supportive throughout your recovery. Mothers who need to overcome addiction for their child’s safety will benefit from our program.