Medication That Causes Diseases: Accutane Birth Defects

Many pregnant women suffer from skin problems such as acne. Accutane is one of the strongest medications for treating acne. But the issue of Accutane birth defects is quite well-known. So, is it possible to treat acne with Accutane while pregnant?

The only answer here is no! It is known that Accutane causes birth defects, so its use is not safe for a pregnant woman, and for a woman who is just planning to conceive a child. No doctor will prescribe this drug during pregnancy or during its planning.

What is Accutane?

Isotretinoin is a steroid drug. It is usually used to treat only severe cases of acne when other treatments have proven ineffective. In Europe, it is known under the names Accutane, Isotretinoin, and Roaccutane. You can also find it under other names – Amnesteem, Claravis, and Sotret.

Isotretinoin is a prescription medication. It is used in the treatment of the most severe forms of acne. Especially nodulocystic acne, if other methods of treatment, including antibiotics, have not brought results.

Nodular (cystic) acne is a red inflamed knoll in the skin that can leave scars. This form of acne sometimes does not respond to any treatment other than retinoic acid. But it takes a lot of time to clean the skin even for this drug.

Accutane is the most famous retinoic acid drug. It is banned in many countries. But there are other drugs that are still used in dermatology such as Amnesteem, Roaccutane, Claravis, and Sotret.

Isotretinoin is one of the retinoids, i.e. drugs containing vitamin A. Therefore, taking this drug (and other retinoids) during pregnancy can lead to very serious birth defects in the fetus or miscarriage.

Women who are already pregnant or plan to become pregnant in the near future, who are having unprotected sex or breastfeeding, cannot take retinoic acid in any way.


Before Taking Accutane

Do not take Accutane during pregnancy and do not get pregnant throughout the course of its use. Also, do not plan pregnancy within a month after you stop taking the drug. Accutane belongs to category X according to the classification of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). This means that Accutane can cause malformations in the fetus. It can also cause miscarriage, premature birth, or death of the child.

You need to take a pregnancy test and get a negative result before your doctor decides whether to prescribe Accutane. What’s more, you must make a second pregnancy test and be sure of its negative result during the first 5 days of the menstrual cycle before starting treatment. It is better to use two reliable methods of contraception at the same time within a month before taking Accutane, during treatment by Accutane, and for at least 1 month after the end of treatment with the drug.

You will also need to take a pregnancy test every month. Your doctor will discuss with you and provide you with information on possible methods of contraception, possible disruptions in contraception, and the importance of using contraceptives during the reception of Accutane. If you become pregnant, stop taking contraceptives, or miss the menstrual cycle, stop using Accutane immediately and inform your doctor.

Symptoms of Accutane Overdose

Symptoms of overdose include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Pain in the stomach
  • Lip swelling
  • Violation of coordination.

Use Accutane with Caution if You have the Following Conditions:

  • Women who can become pregnant;
  • History of depression;
  • Decreased kidney function;
  • Alcoholism;
  • Diabetes;
  • Obesity;
  • Violations of lipid metabolism.


  • Pregnancy;
  • Lactation;
  • Acne, which appeared before puberty;
  • People with reduced liver function;
  • People with high levels of fat (lipids), such as cholesterol and triglycerides, in the blood (hyperlipidemia);
  • A condition as a result of excessive consumption of vitamin A (hypervitaminosis A);
  • People taking tetracycline-type antibiotics;
  • People with an allergy to peanuts or soybeans (capsules may contain soybean oil);
  • Rare hereditary problems of intolerance to fructose;
  • Age younger than 12 years.

Do not take Accutane if you have allergies to it or any of its components. Do not forget to tell your doctor if you have already experienced such an allergy. If you feel that you have an allergic reaction, stop taking the medication and immediately tell your doctor about it. Breastfeeding mothers must not take this medicine, as it penetrates into breast milk and may adversely affect the infant. Contact and consult your doctor.

Accutane During Pregnancy

Accutane can cause serious, life-threatening birth defects. Pregnant women must never use Accutane. Accutane birth defects can be caused even by a single dose of the drug. This concerns defects in the ears of the child, eyes, face, skull, heart, and even brain. Also, doctors do not recommend taking the drug during breastfeeding.

Women of childbearing age must give written consent for the use of this drug.

Do not take vitamin supplements containing vitamin A while you are taking Accutane. Don’t donate blood within 30 days after you stop using the drug.

Do not use this medication if you are allergic to isotretinoin or parabens, or if you are pregnant.

To make sure that you can safely use Accutane, inform your doctor if you have the following diseases:

  • Personal or family history of depression or mental illnesses;
  • Heart disease, high cholesterol, and triglycerides;
  • Osteoporosis or another bone disease;
  • Intestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease;
  • Diabetes;
  • Asthma;
  • Liver disease;
  • You must have a negative pregnancy test 30 days before the start of Accutane treatment.

Always take Accutane with a full glass of water to prevent the melting of the capsule in the esophagus, which can cause irritation. Swallow it as quickly as possible.


The Danger of Accutane for Pregnant Women and Accutane Birth Defects

Accutane contains high doses of retinoids – synthetic analogs of vitamin A. TIt’s a fact that high doses of this vitamin have a teratogenic effect. It means that it causes various anomalies in fetus development, which is obviously connected with the suppression of proliferation and differentiation of tissue cells. It can be such anomalies as a hare lip and a cleft palate that do not allow the baby to suck and swallow normally. There may be more significant anomalies, connected for example, with the brain (microcephaly, hydrocephalus, etc.), with the cardiovascular system (various heart defects), and other organs and systems. In addition, the risk of miscarriage increases.

Vitamin A is necessary for the body of a pregnant woman, but not in such doses. The situation is further aggravated by the fact that in pregnant women the functional activity of the liver decreases. Whereas retinoids (as well as natural vitamin A) are accumulated in the liver and fatty tissue and are used slowly by the body. This further contributes to a drug overdose.

Accutane Birth Defects

There is a very high risk of birth defects in a child if his mother takes retinoic acid during pregnancy. Even if she takes it in small amounts and for a short period of time.

The most frequent Accutane birth defects are:

  • Hydrocephalus (cerebral edema (fluid filling the space in the brain));
  • Microcephaly (small head and brain);
  • Mental retardation;
  • Anomalies of the organs of hearing and sight;
  • The cleft palate, harelip, and other abnormalities of the facial structure;
  • Heart diseases.

Retinoic acid can cause birth defects in the first weeks after conception, when a woman generally may not know that she is pregnant. Even children born without obvious birth defects can in the future have limited mental abilities or great learning difficulties.

Unfortunately, Accutane birth defects are a reality. The consequences of Accutane treatment can be terrible. What’s more, the drug also increases the risk of premature birth and death of the child.