Posted by Claudia Grazioso on July 7, 2011
Are you among the many women who suffer from bipolar disorder or manic depression and hope or plan to become pregnant? If you’re currently taking Zyprexa, you might want to consult your health care practitioner about trying a different medication for the duration of your pregnancy.
Zyprexa, which is prescribed to treat serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia as well as bipolar disorder and manic-depressive disorder, has been labeled a Category C drug by the Food and Drug Administration. Like many anti-depressants, it has been found to cause damage to the fetus in studies conducted on animals. In some studies, Zyprexa was linked to an increase in miscarriages and a higher instance of low birth weight.
Zyprexa, also known as Olanzapine, is considered an atypical antipsychotic. It helps to control symptoms of bipolar disorder and manic depression by altering the activity of certain chemicals in the brain. As anyone who knows someone with bipolar or suffers from it herself is aware, this disorder is a balancing act. Medicine frequently is very beneficial — and so the thought of altering or stopping medication for several months can be very worrisome. And certainly, dealing with the symptoms of bipolar disorder while pregnant can take a toll on both mother and child. However, Zyprexa and other atypical antipsychotics, in addition to having been labeled a Category C drug, also have been linked to an increased risks of gestational diabetes and high blood pressure in pregnant women. These conditions, obviously, have an impact on a developing baby, as well.
So what are some options? Enter the Oldies But Goodies. Believe it or not, some doctors feel that if you stop taking Zyprexa during pregnancy and symptoms return, you should look into using what are called first generation anti-psychotics. Even though some of them have the same Category C label as Zyprexa, some doctors feel that medications like Haldol, thorazine and lithium have been around a lot longer, studied more intensely and are considered to have a very low risk of causing harm during a pregnancy. They might help to control your symptoms until you can return to your regular medication. If you and your doctor decide you should stay on Zyprexa, be sure to be closely monitored throughout your pregnancy for the onset of diabetes or high blood pressure.
Additionally, if you are planning to breastfeed, you should know that Zyprexa does enter the breast milk and some nursing infants have suffered negative effects. Babies whose mothers took Zyprexa while breastfeeding have been reported to experience drowsiness, jaundice (a yellowing of the eyes and skin) and even heart murmurs. If you are on Zyprexa, you might want to consider formula feeding your baby.