On June 7, 2006, the results of a new study determined that pregnant women who took ACE inhibitors within their first trimester were more than twice as likely to have babies born with severe brain and heart ailments, as compared to those not exposed to any blood pressure-lowering medicines. The latest statistics from a national survey found the number of ACE inhibitor prescriptions given to childbearing women almost doubled from 1.4 million in 1995 to 2.7 million in 2002. In the report, researchers examined Medicaid records on 29,507 infants born in Tennessee between 1985 and 2000. Out of the 29,507, 411 babies had mothers who took a blood pressure drug at least once during their first trimester.

Birth Defects associated with ACE Inhibitors
  • Holes in the heart
  • Neurological and Kidney problems
  • Malformations of the central nervous system, urinary system, or other systems

    Based on the new findings, taking these drugs during early pregnancy “cannot be considered safe and should be avoided,” lead researcher Dr. William Cooper, a Vanderbilt University pediatrician, said in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine.

    ACE inhibitors (angiotensin-converting enzyme) are used for monitoring blood pressure, treating heart failure and preventing kidney damage in people with hypertension or diabetes. ACE inhibitors work by relaxing blood vessels and increasing blood flow to the heart.

    Drugs containing an ACE Inhibitor (generic names in parentheses)
  • Lotrel, Lotensin (benzapril)
  • Prinivil, Zestril, Prinzide, Zestoretic (lisinopril)
  • Altace (ramipril)
  • Capoten, Capozide (captopril)
  • Vasotec, Teczem, Lexxel, Vaseretic (enlapril)
  • Aceon (perindopril)
  • Accupril (quinapril)
  • Univasc (moexipril)
  • Mavik, Tarka (trandolapril)
  • Monapril (fosinopril)

    There is currently a strong FDA black box warning about the dangers of using ACE Inhibitors in the later stages of pregnancy. ACE Inhibitor labels also state that the drugs should be stopped upon pregnancy. There is hardly any research or data available to date regarding the side effects of ACE Inhibitors within the first trimester of pregnancy. After this study was released, the FDA said more research is needed before it considers changing the warning label to specifically include the risks during the first trimester.

    During the 1990s, the FDA made it mandatory for pharmaceutical companies to put warning stickers on ACE inhibitors after the agency received a few reports from women whose babies were harmed. The label warned that ACE inhibitors could cause skull deformities, kidney failure, lung problems and even fetal death when taken in the last two-thirds of pregnancy.

    If you or someone you know has taken an ACE Inhibitor during pregnancy and suffered any of these problems, contact us today!

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