Date: April 2023, Version 4

Quick read

Bupropion is not recommended in pregnancy. Other treatments are available which are safer to use.

What is it?

Bupropion (Zyban®) can help some people stop smoking.


What are the benefits of using bupropion in pregnancy?

It is important to try not to smoke in pregnancy as it can harm the baby. However, bupropion is not usually recommended in pregnancy as there are other methods to stop smoking that are thought to be safer for the baby.


What are the risks of using bupropion in pregnancy?

There is no evidence that use of bupropion in pregnancy causes miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth, or low infant birth weight. Although some studies suggest a link with birth defects, others do not agree, and ongoing data collection is therefore required. One study found that children who were exposed to bupropion in pregnancy (particularly during the second trimester) were more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by the age of 5. Further research is required to confirm this link.

Bupropion may cause short-term withdrawal symptoms in the newborn baby if taken in the weeks before delivery. For this reason, a baby may be monitored for some time after birth to check for symptoms such as jitteriness, difficulty sleeping and breathing problems.

Medicines that work in a similar way to bupropion have been linked in rare cases to a lung problem in newborn babies called persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN). There is no good information on whether bupropion use around the time of delivery increases the chance of PPHN. As a precaution, a baby exposed in late pregnancy would be checked for breathing problems by a midwife or paediatrician.


Are there any alternatives to using bupropion in pregnancy?

Yes. Other products to stop smoking are preferred in pregnancy. These include nicotine gums, patches, sprays, and e-cigarettes.

Ideally, a woman who smokes and is pregnant or planning a pregnancy should speak to her GP or midwife who will offer support to stop or cut down smoking.

No treatment

What if I prefer not to use products to help stop smoking during pregnancy?

It is important to try and stop smoking in pregnancy, or cut down as much as possible, to reduce the chance of miscarriage, stillbirth, some birth defects, preterm birth, and low birthweight in the baby. Use of nicotine gums, patches, sprays, or e-cigarettes are safer for the baby than continuing to smoke in pregnancy.

Will I or 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. No extra monitoring for major birth defects is required following use of bupropion or products to help stop smoking in pregnancy.

Are there any risks to my baby if the father has used bupropion?

We would not expect any increased risk to the baby if the father took bupropion 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 www.uktis.org.

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

Our online reporting system (MyBump Portal) allows women who are currently pregnant to create a secure record of their pregnancy, collected through a series of questionnaires. You will be asked to enter information about your health, whether or not you take any medicines, your pregnancy outcome and your child's development. 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 the MyBump Portal to register.

General information
Sadly, miscarriage and birth defects can occur in any pregnancy.

Miscarriage occurs in about 1 in every 5 pregnancies, and 1 in every 40 babies are born with a birth defect. This is called the ‘background risk’ and happens whether medication is taken or not.

Most medicines cross the placenta and reach the baby. For many medications this is not a problem. However, some medicines can affect a baby’s growth and development.

If you take regular medication and are planning to conceive, you should discuss whether your medicine is safe to continue with your doctor/health care team before becoming pregnant. If you have an unplanned pregnancy while taking a medicine, you should tell your doctor as soon as possible.

If a new medicine is suggested for you during pregnancy, please make sure that the person prescribing it knows that you are pregnant. If you have any concerns about a medicine, you can check with your doctor, midwife or pharmacist.

Our Bumps information leaflets provide information about the effects of medicines in pregnancy so that you can decide, together with your healthcare provider, what is best for you and your baby.