(Date: July 2022. Version: 3.1)

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

Loperamide is rarely used in pregnancy as it is unclear if it is safe for the baby.

What is it?

Loperamide (Imodium®, Norimode®, Diah-limit®, Diocalm ultra®, Normaloe®, Diaquitte®, Diasorb®, Entrocalm®) is most commonly used to treat short episodes of diarrhoea.

Loperamide may also be prescribed to treat long-term diarrhoea due to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or to improve digestion in people who have had part of their bowel removed.

What are the benefits of taking loperamide in pregnancy?

Loperamide treatment can greatly improve quality of life. However, loperamide is only recommended in pregnancy if absolutely necessary as it is unclear if it might affect the unborn baby.

What are the risks of taking loperamide in pregnancy?

Some studies show possible links between loperamide use in pregnancy and birth defects in the baby, while others do not agree with this finding. It is therefore not possible to confirm that loperamide is safe to use in pregnancy.

Are there any alternatives to taking loperamide in pregnancy?

Yes, usually. Women with short-term diarrhoea will usually be advised to use non-drug treatments, such as resting and staying hydrated. For women with IBS, a different drug may be an option. Women planning a pregnancy or who become pregnant while taking loperamide should discuss their treatment with a doctor.

What if I prefer not to take loperamide in pregnancy?

Women who take loperamide for long-term treatment may be able to safely stop if advised to do so by a doctor.

Medicines will only be prescribed during pregnancy when necessary and a doctor will be happy to talk about any concerns.

Will I or my baby need extra monitoring?

In the UK, all women will be offered a very detailed scan at around 20 weeks of pregnancy as part of their routine antenatal care. No additional monitoring of the baby is required due to use of loperamide.

Are there any risks to my baby if the father has taken loperamide?

There is no evidence that loperamide used by the father can harm the baby through effects on the sperm.

Who can I talk to if I have questions?

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

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 https://www.medicinesinpregnancy.org/Login/ 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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