Was this baby born skinless because his mum took potent drugs in pregnancy?

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This poor child was born without any skin to protect his body...

Whenever a woman finds out she is pregnant, she immediately starts changing her habits to ensure her body and baby are well taken care of. But sometimes, it’s difficult to avoid taking medication if you are ill while pregnant. Unfortunately, for one mum, that medication she took could have affected her baby, as her little one was born without skin.

A case study published in the Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association previously examined the reasons why a baby without skin was born. The scientists suspect that maybe one of the medicines the mum took called azathioprine was to blame for her baby’s condition. Later, we also answer other questions on what medications are not safe to take during pregnancy, too.

What medications are not safe to take during pregnancy: Mum gives birth to a baby without skin

Unlike other healthy newborns, over 90% of this baby’s body was not covered with the skin at birth. In addition, the baby was born with no nails, not even a single strand of hair, eyelashes or eyebrows.

what medications are not safe to take during pregnancy

A screenshot of a baby affected by Aplasia cutis congenita. A warning to mums on what medications are not safe to take during pregnancy. | Image Source: JPMA

Was this baby born skinless because his mum took potent drugs in pregnancy?Not only that, but this baby boy also lacks nipples; his ears have not fully developed, and all the blood vessels in his body can be seen visibly.

At birth, the baby boy only weighed 1.02 kg, with a head circumference of only 26.5 cm. Generally, the head circumference of newborn ranges between 33 cm to 38 cm.

With such a severe condition, the baby boy received intensive care in an incubator. Even so, the baby still passed away after four days of receiving treatment.

The baby was affected by Aplasia Cutis Congenita: A rare condition

Dermatitis Aplasia Cutis Congenita is a condition where a person lacks skin from birth. Up until today, babies born with this condition are quite rare.

Most of the time, this condition affects areas around the head.  It can also happen in either gender —  boys and girls.

Exactly what caused this abnormality?

Apparently, the baby’s mum had given birth to two healthy babies previously.

During delivery, the mum admitted that she had not been previously affected by chickenpox or rashes while pregnant. However, she suffers from a condition called Pemphigus Vulgaris.

what medications are not safe to take during pregnancy

Most parts of the baby were not covered by the skin at all. | Image Source: JPMA

What is Pemphigus Vulgaris?

Pemphigus Vulgaris is a rare autoimmune disease. This condition leads to blisters on the skin or mouth, which gradually grow and burst, leaving a scar.

The disease is actually caused by a dysfunctional immune system. One of its symptoms is flaking or skin peeling off from the mouth. The condition can also lead to diphtheria and dermatitis. Pemphigus Vulgaris affects people off all ages, including children, whether male or female.

The main symptoms that 50% of patients will experience are vesicles or boils in their mouth. Generally, blisters can also be found on the gums, cheeks or palate. Abrasions can also be seen in several areas or can spread throughout the mouth. Patients can experience excruciating pain from this condition.

Clearly, the illness leads to patients feeling discomfort. Furthermore, patients also drastically lose their appetite so much that they risk malnutrition and a hoarse voice.

This is the main reason why the mum admitted to taking medication while pregnant. Unfortunately, the medication she took may have put the foetus’s health at risk.

The mother said she had initially bought prednisolone, which she took at a dose of 60 mg daily during the first two months of pregnancy. Then the dosage gradually decreased by 30 mg/day.

In addition, she also took 150 mg of azathioprine each day from her sixth till the 20th week of pregnancy. Afterwards, doctors gradually reduced her dosage to about 15 mg each day.

What are the health risks of taking Azathioprine while pregnant?

Mums, please note that taking azathioprine during pregnancy is not recommended by the FDA.

According to the source study, it’s known that taking azathioprine while pregnant may lead to a rise in congenital abnormalities.

For instance, in the study, the researchers point out that taking azathioprine could lead to:

  • slower development in the womb
  • a higher risk of premature birth and low birth weight
  • a variety of different conditions affecting the head, spinal cord,  thymus, kidney, blood, lungs, urinary bladder, eyes, urethra, and hands.

However, there are conflicting results. Some studies suggesting that taking azathioprine can lead to heart defects, low-birth weight, premature birth and small size for gestational age. Other studies, on the other hand, claim that it’s safe.

It’s important to note that perhaps the mum’s disease, Pemphigus Vulgaris, could have also contributed to her baby being born skinless.

What medications are not safe to take during pregnancy?

What medications are not safe to take during pregnancy? One of them might just be azathioprine, which could lead to delayed foetal growth. The scientists in this study hypothesised that azathioprine might also be responsible for Aplasia Cutis Congenita. | Image Source: JPMA

Of course, no mum or doctor wants a baby in the womb to be at risk of incomplete development. Therefore, all expecting women should ensure that the drugs they take are safe and will not affect foetal growth.

What medications are not safe to take during pregnancy?

So azathioprine may not be safe to take during pregnancy. Are there any other medications that could have risky side effects too?

Here’s a short list of those that you shouldn’t take during pregnancy:

  1. Ibuprofen
  2. Aspirin
  3. Naproxen Sodium (Aleve)
  4. Acne Medicines
  5. Ribavirin
  6. Anti-fungal medication
  7. Anti-anxiety medication and anti-depressants
  8. Antibiotics (unless prescribed by your doctor)
  9. Antihistamines (unless prescribed by your doctor)
  10. Migraine medications (unless prescribed by your doctor)
  11. Sleeping Aids
  12. Bismuth Subsalicylate

Read more on about why these medications aren’t suitable for you and your little ones here, mums! At the same time, if you need to take any medication while pregnant, only take those prescribed by your doctor.

What to consider before you consume Over-the-counter (OTC) medications

  1. Consult with your doctor. Before you take any medication make sure to consult with your doctor. You should know most of these popular OTC medications have serious long-term effects. Ask yourself, are you willing to put your baby’s life in danger to get rid of that headache?
  2. Avoid combination drugs. Do not take two different kinds of medications together. Only do this if your doctor recommends it. For instance, an anti-allergy drug and a pain reliever can be a deadly combination. So discuss this with your doctor as well.
  3. Read labels. Always make sure to read the labels before you buy or consume an OTC medication. Many times, ingredients like alcohol and caffeine show unannounced. So be careful with what you purchase and share the information with your doctor, as always.

One final reminder: mums, if you’re pregnant and expecting a little one soon, please be sure to ALWAYS check with your doctors about drugs and drug safety. You should never self medicate without professional advice. That way, you can get the best outcome from your pregnancy each step along the way.

This article about what medications are not safe to take during pregnancy was originally written in Bahasa Indonesia by Adisty Titania. It was translated and further edited by Kevin Wijaya Oey, later republished with the permission of theAsianparent Indonesia

References: JPMA, NCBI (1, 2, 3)

Read also: Can you take paracetamol in pregnancy?

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Africa parent