Sulfasalazine Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Warnings
Sulfasalazine Pregnancy Warnings
FDA pregnancy category: B Sulfasalazine should be used during pregnancy only if clearly needed. Comments: Sulfasalazine inhibits folic acid absorption and metabolism.
Animal studies have failed to reveal evidence of fetal harm. During animal studies using doses up to 6 times the human maintenance dose (2 g per day based on BSA), no adverse fetal effects were revealed. There are no controlled data in human pregnancy. Sulfasalazine and its metabolite, sulfapyridine, pass through the placenta. In one infant, umbilical cord serum levels of sulfasalazine and sulfapyridine were equal to maternal serum levels. Sulfonamides compete with bilirubin for plasma protein binding sites and may cause kernicterus in newborns. Although sulfapyridine has poor bilirubin-displacing capacity, newborns should be monitored for kernicterus. Cases of neural tube defects have been reported in infants born to mothers exposed to sulfasalazine during pregnancy; causality has not been established. Oral sulfasalazine inhibits absorption and metabolism of folic acid which may interfere with folic acid supplementation and reduce its periconceptional effect. Periconceptional folic acid supplementation has been shown to decrease risk of neural tube defects. A national survey evaluated outcomes of pregnancies associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In 186 pregnancies in women treated with sulfasalazine alone or with concomitant steroid therapy, the incidence of fetal morbidity and mortality was comparable to 245 untreated IBD pregnancies and to pregnancies in the general population. A study of 1455 pregnancies with exposure to sulfonamides showed that these drugs did not appear to be associated with fetal malformations. A medical literature review of 1155 pregnancies in women with ulcerative colitis suggested outcomes were similar to those expected in the general population. Sulfasalazine use during pregnancy appears to be safe. A review compared 287 pregnancies in women with ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease treated with sulfasalazine and/or steroids to 244 pregnancies in women who were not treated. Abnormalities reported in infants whose mothers received sulfasalazine and steroids included cleft palate, microglossia, and congenital deafness. The incidence of abnormalities was not significantly different between the treated and untreated patients. The incidence of spontaneous abortion, premature birth, and low birth weight in the treated infants was less than the predicted values based on the general population. In a review of 229,101 deliveries to Michigan Medicaid patients, 72 first-trimester exposures to sulfasalazine and 72 exposures any time during pregnancy were recorded. A total of 2 birth defects were reported with first trimester exposure and 1 with exposure during pregnancy. These data do not support an association to birth defects. (written communication, Franz Rosa, MD, Food and Drug Administration, 1994) Agranulocytosis has been reported in a newborn whose mother took sulfasalazine and prednisone throughout pregnancy. Another infant whose mother was treated with sulfasalazine throughout pregnancy was born with microcephaly, ventricular septal defect, and coarctation of the aorta. Cleft palate and severe hydrocephalus has also been reported in an infant. FDA pregnancy category B: Animal reproduction studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women.
Sulfasalazine Breastfeeding Warnings
Sulfonamides (including sulfasalazine and its metabolite) are present in human milk. Insignificant amounts of sulfasalazine are found in breast milk. Sulfapyridine has levels in milk about 30% to 60% of those in maternal serum. Sulfonamides compete with bilirubin for plasma protein binding sites and may cause kernicterus in newborns. Although sulfapyridine has poor bilirubin-displacing capacity, newborns should be monitored for kernicterus. One breastfed infant developed bloody diarrhea while the mother ingested sulfasalazine. The mother was determined to be a slow acetylator of sulfonamides. The diarrhea resolved 48 to 72 hours after the mother discontinued sulfasalazine. No other etiology could be found for the infant's diarrhea. Cases (with limited data) of bloody stools or diarrhea have been reported in infants fed breast milk from mothers taking sulfasalazine. In cases where outcome was reported, the infant's bloody stools or diarrhea resolved after the mother discontinued sulfasalazine or breastfeeding was discontinued. Due to limited data, a causal relationship has not been established, but cannot be ruled out. Monitoring for signs and symptoms of diarrhea and/or bloody stools in infants receiving breast milk from mothers taking sulfasalazine is recommended.
Caution is recommended. Excreted into human milk: Yes Excreted into animal milk: Data not available Sulfapyridine, the active metabolite of sulfasalazine, is considered compatible with breastfeeding by the American Academy of Pediatrics if caution is exercised in infants with jaundice or glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, and in ill, stressed, or premature infants.
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