(Date: May 2023. Version: 1.0)

This factsheet has been written for members of the public by the UK Teratology Information Service (UKTIS). UKTIS is a not-for-profit organisation funded by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) on behalf of UK Health Departments. UKTIS has been providing scientific information to health care providers since 1983 on the effects that medicines, recreational drugs and chemicals may have on the developing baby during pregnancy.

Quick read

Therapeutic amfetamines can be used in pregnancy if attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms cannot be treated any other way.

What are they?

Therapeutic amfetamines (Amfexa®, Dexedrine®, Dexamfetamine, Elvanse®, Lisdexamfetamine) are used to treat ADHD.

What are the benefits of taking a therapeutic amfetamine in pregnancy?

Therapeutic amfetamines can help with some symptoms of ADHD. Controlling these symptoms can help a woman remain well during pregnancy and while looking after her baby.

Are there any risks associated with taking a therapeutic amfetamine during pregnancy?

Therapeutic amfetamine use in pregnancy is not known to cause birth defects in the baby. Use in later pregnancy might slow the baby’s growth in the womb by altering blood flow through the placenta.

Therapeutic amfetamines work through effects on the brain. They might, therefore, cause short-term withdrawal symptoms in the newborn baby if taken in the weeks before delivery. The baby may need to be monitored after birth to check for jitteriness, difficulty sleeping, and breathing and feeding problems.

Are there any alternatives to taking a therapeutic amfetamine?

Possibly. Other medicines can be used to treat ADHD, so switching to something else may be an option. People with ADHD can sometimes manage without medicines, but this is not the case for everyone. If ADHD is well-controlled with a therapeutic amfetamine, it may be better to stay on it rather than stop or try something new and risk a relapse.

Ideally, a woman planning a pregnancy should speak to her GP or specialist to determine whether a therapeutic amfetamine is still the best option. Similarly, women who have an unplanned pregnancy while taking a therapeutic amfetamine should be reviewed at the earliest opportunity by their GP or specialist.

What if I prefer not to take medicines during pregnancy?

If a woman’s ADHD causes problems with health and wellbeing, it is important that symptoms are well-controlled during pregnancy. Discontinuing ADHD medication can cause symptoms to return and stopping suddenly can cause withdrawal effects.

A medicine will only be prescribed during pregnancy if it is absolutely necessary, and a doctor or specialist will be happy to discuss the benefits and any risks.

Please do not stop a therapeutic amfetamine without speaking to your midwife, GP or specialist.

Will my baby need extra monitoring?

All pregnant women in the UK should be offered a detailed anomaly scan at around 20 weeks of pregnancy as part of their routine antenatal care. Because this scan is so thorough, extra monitoring for birth defects is not usually required following therapeutic amfetamine use in pregnancy.

Are there any risks to my baby if the father has taken a therapeutic amfetamine?

We would not expect any increased risk to the baby if the father took a therapeutic amfetamine before or around the time you became pregnant.

Who can I talk to if I have questions?

If you have any questions regarding the information in this leaflet please discuss them with your health care provider. They can access more detailed medical and scientific information from

How can I help to improve drug safety information for pregnant women in the future?

Our online reporting system allows women with a current or previous pregnancy to create a digitally secure ‘my bumps record’. You will be asked to enter information about your health, whether or not you take any medicines, and your pregnancy outcome. You can update your details at any time during pregnancy or afterwards. This information will help us better understand how medicines affect the health of pregnant women and their babies. Please visit to register.

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General information 

Up to 1 out of every 5 pregnancies ends in a miscarriage, and 1 in 40 babies are born with a birth defect. These are referred to as the background population risks.  They describe the chance of these events happening for any pregnancy before taking factors such as the mother’s health during pregnancy, her lifestyle, medicines she takes and the genetic make up of her and the baby’s father into account.

Medicines use in pregnancy

Most medicines used by the mother will cross the placenta and reach the baby. Sometimes this may have beneficial effects for the baby.  There are, however, some medicines that can harm a baby’s normal development.  How a medicine affects a baby may depend on the stage of pregnancy when the medicine is taken. If you are on regular medication you should discuss these effects with your doctor/health care team before becoming pregnant.

If a new medicine is suggested for you during pregnancy, please ensure the doctor or health care professional treating you is aware of your pregnancy.

When deciding whether or not to use a medicine in pregnancy you need to weigh up how the medicine might improve your and/or your unborn baby’s health against any possible problems that the drug may cause. Our bumps leaflets are written to provide you with a summary of what is known about use of a specific medicine in pregnancy so that you can decide together with your health care provider what is best for you and your baby.   

Every pregnancy is unique. The decision to start, stop, continue or change a prescribed medicine before or during pregnancy should be made in consultation with your health care provider. It is very helpful if you can record all your medication taken in pregnancy in your hand held maternity records.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to replace the individual care and advice of your health care provider. New information is continually becoming available. Whilst every effort will be made to ensure that this information is accurate and up to date at the time of publication, we cannot cover every eventuality and the information providers cannot be held responsible for any adverse outcomes following decisions made on the basis of this information. We strongly advise that printouts should NOT be kept for any length of time, or for “future reference” as they can rapidly become out of date.

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