Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Health & Pregnancy

Font Size

Drugs in Pregnancy Linked to Cancer

Allergy Drugs, Diet Pills Boost Risk of Childhood Leukemia

WebMD Health News

Oct. 11, 2002 - Children born to women who took antihistamines the year before becoming pregnant or during pregnancy were at increased risk of developing acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common kind of childhood cancer. The risk was also elevated if the child's father had taken the drugs.

In ALL, developing white blood cells, or lymphocytes, do not mature and become too numerous. This overproduction crowds the bone marrow, radically reducing the body's ability to form other normal and necessary blood cells.

Wanqing Wen, MD, of the School of Medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, and colleagues evaluated more than 1,800 children with ALL, aged 14 or younger.

They found that amphetamines (diet pills) and mind-altering drugs, primarily marijuana, used by either parent before or during pregnancy also increased the risk of ALL for the child. Amphetamine use nearly tripled the risk, and mind-altering drugs nearly doubled the risk.

Their complete findings appear in the Oct. 15 issue of Cancer.

While few, if any, doctors ever recommend pregnant women take diet pills, much less smoke marijuana, it is not uncommon for women or their partners to have taken amphetamines or smoked marijuana the year before becoming pregnant.

In addition, it is not uncommon for doctors to prescribe allergy medication to pregnant women. Benadryl is one antihistamine-containing drug believed to be safe during pregnancy. Some doctors even prescribe it for short-term use to help pregnant women fight sleep problems.

The disturbing findings give new insight into the effects certain drugs can have on a child in utero or during early life. "Further studies are needed to establish the safety of these medications during pregnancy," write the researchers.

The researchers also found, however, that vitamin and iron supplements taken by the mother during pregnancy appeared to decrease the risk of childhood ALL. This is certainly good news, as women are advised to take prenatal vitamins before and during pregnancy. Some vitamins, such as folic acid, are known to reduce the risk of birth defects. This is the first study to suggest that vitamin and iron supplements may also reduce the risk of childhood ALL.

The investigators speculate that vitamin supplements may reduce the risk of having a child who develops ALL because they contain antioxidants, substances known to ward off disease and help boost the immune system. -->

Pregnancy Week-By-Week Newsletter

Delivered right to your inbox, get pictures and facts on
what to expect each week of your pregnancy.

Today on WebMD

hand circling date on calendar
Track your most fertile days.
woman looking at ultrasound
Week-by-week pregnancy guide.
Pretty pregnant woman timing contaction pains
The signs to watch out for.
pregnant woman in hospital
Are there ways to do it naturally?
slideshow fetal development
pregnancy first trimester warning signs
What Causes Bipolar
Woman trying on dress in store
pregnant woman
Woman looking at pregnancy test
calendar and baby buggy
dark chocolate squares