Pregnancies safe if morning after pill fails

There do not appear to be any adverse consequences for the mother or the developing fetus in pregnancies that occur despite the use of the so-called “morning after” pill levonorgestrel, new research shows.

Although the results stem from a small study, “we believe that…exposure to this drug (around the time of conception) does not warrant a voluntary abortion” for fear of risks to the developing fetus, lead author Dr. Marco De Santis, from the Catholic University of Sacred Heart in Rome, and colleagues note in the journal Fertility and Sterility.

The study involved 36 pregnant women who were exposed to levonorgestrel and 80 similar women who were not. A total of 25 deliveries took place in the exposed group and 69 occurred in the nonexposed group.

Stillbirth rates were not significantly different between the groups. pregnancy complications were uncommon and of similar frequency in each group. There were no cases of Ectopic pregnancy, a dangerous condition that occurs when the embryo implants outside of the uterus, in either group.

Newborns in the exposed group were of comparable weight and length to those in the unexposed group and were not at increased risk for malformations.

The researchers conclude that the data “showed that there is no increased risk of congenital (malformations) or adverse pregnancy outcomes that is caused by the failure of levonorgestrel.”

SOURCE: Fertility and Sterility, August 2005.

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Revision date: July 3, 2011
Last revised: by Amalia K. Gagarina, M.S., R.D.