Malaria Home > Lariam and Pregnancy
It is unclear if it is safe for pregnant women to use Lariam (mefloquine). Some animal studies indicated that the drug might cause problems in a developing fetus. However, this risk may not necessarily apply to humans, and the medication may be prescribed to a pregnant woman if the benefits outweigh the risks.
Can Pregnant Women Take Lariam?Lariam® (mefloquine hydrochloride) is a prescription medication used to prevent and treat malaria infections. Based on the results of animal studies, it may not be safe for pregnant women to take this medication.
What Is Pregnancy Category C?The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses a pregnancy category system to classify the possible risks to a fetus when a specific medicine is taken during pregnancy. Pregnancy Category C is given to medicines that have not been studied in pregnant humans, but appear to cause harm to the fetus in animal studies.
Medicines that have not been studied in any pregnant women or animals are automatically given a pregnancy Category C rating.
In animal studies, giving high doses of this drug to pregnant mice, rats, and rabbits caused problems in the developing fetus. Lariam has not been adequately studied in pregnant humans.
There have been a small number of reports of Lariam use in pregnant women with malaria. In these reports, Lariam did not appear to increase the risk for birth defects or other problems. In addition, a small study looking at Lariam use for malaria prevention in pregnant women did not show an increased risk for birth defects or other problems. However, the available information is too limited to definitely say that it is safe for pregnant women to use Lariam.
It should be noted that a malaria infection is particularly dangerous in pregnant women and can even cause life-threatening problems. Malaria may also increase the risk for miscarriage, premature labor, or other problems in the newborn infant. Therefore, it is very important for a pregnant woman with malaria to receive treatment.
Woman who may become pregnant should receive medication to help prevent a malaria infection when traveling to a malaria area. In addition, women should use effective birth control while in a malaria area. The manufacturer of Lariam recommends that women use birth control while taking Lariam and for three months after stopping this antimalarial drug.
It is important to note that animals do not always respond to medicines in the same way that humans do. Therefore, a pregnancy Category C medicine may be given to a pregnant woman if the healthcare provider believes that the benefits to the woman outweigh any possible risks to the unborn child. In some cases, the benefit of Lariam treatment may outweigh the risks in a pregnant woman.