Ritalin And Pregnancy | Safety Risks & Concerns

Ritalin use and pregnancy should be discussed with a doctor because this ADHD medication lacks adequate studies regarding pregnant women and methylphenidate exposure.

Ritalin And Pregnancy | Safety Risks & Concerns

Ritalin, the brand name for methylphenidate hydrochloride, is a prescription drug primarily used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In addition to treating ADHD symptoms, Ritalin may be prescribed for sleeping disorders such as narcolepsy.

Ritalin is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant medication similar to Concerta or Adderall. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), women are advised to tell their doctors if they are pregnant or plan on becoming pregnant before taking Ritalin.

Ritalin use and pregnancy should be discussed with a doctor because this ADHD medication lacks adequate studies regarding pregnant women and methylphenidate exposure. However, there have been animal studies that suggest potential risks and concerns for pregnant women.

Potential Risks Of Ritalin Use During Pregnancy

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), stimulant use by pregnant mothers can lead to long-term health and development consequences for their child.

Although risks may be low, it’s still important for you to to discuss stimulant medications and your pregnancy with your doctor.

Risks During Early Pregnancy

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that women who take ADHD medicine during early stages of their pregnancy have an increased risk of delivering a baby with some type of birth defect compared to those who do not take prescription stimulants during pregnancy.

The CDC also states that taking this medication during early pregnancy can result in a variety of abnormalities such as limb reduction or abdominal wall major malformations in which the intestines develop through the belly button, outside the body of the child.

First-Trimester Exposure

Women who take Ritalin during their first trimester may have an increased risk of their child being born with congenital malformations. This exposure of stimulant medication can lead to cardiac malformations or heart defects.

In addition to potential heart problems which can occur, those who take Ritalin during the early stages of their pregnancy may experience a preterm delivery. Prenatal Ritalin exposure can also cause a low birth weight.

Concerns Of Ritalin Use While Pregnant

In addition to the possible risks associated with taking Ritalin while pregnant, there are a number of concerns as well.


For those taking ADHD meds during their pregnancy, a condition known as preeclampsia has the potential to occur. Preeclampsia is associated with an increase in blood pressure, protein in urine, and swelling of the hands.

Preeclampsia typically takes place around week 20 of pregnancy. Complications of preeclampsia include eclampsia, a dangerous condition in which a woman may experience seizures during pregnancy.

The potential of preeclampsia occurrence may be low, but it is life-threatening for both mother and child. Immediate attention should be sought if one develops similar symptoms.


You will likely need to speak with your healthcare provider regarding the use of ADHD medication even after you’ve given birth. This is because when lactation occurs, there is a possibility of the infant receiving some of the prescription drug via breast milk.

Although very little Ritalin may be passed to your child, it’s important to speak with your doctor regarding any stimulants you take if you become pregnant.

If you or a loved one engages in unhealthy methylphenidate use while pregnant or not, addiction treatment options are available. For information on our outpatient options, please contact us today.

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

Published on

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This page does not provide medical advice.

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