Date: September 2020, Version 3.0

What is it?

Pizotifen is a sedating (drowsy) antihistamine prescribed to prevent specific types of severe recurrent headache (vascular headaches, migraines and cluster headaches).


What are the benefits of taking pizotifen in pregnancy?

Pizotifen can prevent severe headaches. Treatment with pizotifen in pregnancy might be considered necessary for women who experience recurrent headaches that impact significantly on their quality of life or ability to carry out daily activities.


Are there any risks of taking pizotifen during pregnancy?

There are no studies of pregnant women specifically taking pizotifen and so the effects are largely unknown. It is not commonly used in pregnancy and would generally not be recommended unless there was no other option to prevent headaches that would seriously affect quality of life.


Are there any alternatives to taking pizotifen?

Possibly. Other medicines can be used to prevent or treat severe headaches. However, in rare cases, pizotifen may be the only medicine that works well, or a woman and her doctor may decide it is best to stay on it rather than try something new and risk a relapse.

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

No treatment

What if I don't want to take medicines to prevent or treat severe headaches?

Severe headaches can potentially be improved by use of medicines that can be safely used in pregnancy. If untreated, they generally do not pose a direct health risk to the mother or baby, but can greatly affect quality of life and the ability to carry out activities of daily living.

Your doctor will be happy to talk to you about any concerns that you might have when considering use of a medicine in pregnancy.

Will my baby need extra monitoring?

All pregnant women in the UK should be offered a very 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 pizotifen use in pregnancy.

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

We would not expect any increased risk to your baby if the father takes pizotifen.

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.