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J Am Acad Dermatol. 1988 Sep;19(3):431-42.

Use of oral and topical agents for acne in pregnancy.

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Department of Dermatology, Boston University School of Medicine, MA.


Dermatologists frequently are consulted by a pregnant patient or a woman of childbearing age who desires acne therapy. Because there are no published studies in which women took acne medications throughout pregnancy, information about safety must be obtained indirectly from studies in which the agents were taken for another indication during some portion of pregnancy. Oral tetracycline is associated with maternal liver toxicity and deciduous tooth staining in the infant, and tetracycline occasionally has been associated with other congenital anomalies. Maternal isotretinoin ingestion is associated with major craniofacial and cardiac deformities, as well as other congenital anomalies. Erythromycin, however, appears to be safe. Topical acne medications never have been implicated as a cause of fetal deformities in human beings. Dermatologists should be aware of potential toxic and teratogenic effects of acne medicines before prescribing them to women of childbearing age. Prompt reporting of adverse effects is encouraged.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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