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Kratom and pregnancy: Not a safe mix

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 14, 2021.

Taking good care of yourself when you're expecting a baby is important. That's why many people take special vitamins and, sometimes, supplements. But kratom could be unhealthy for your baby.

Kratom is an herbal extract that comes from the leaves of an evergreen tree (Mitragyna speciosa) that grows in Southeast Asia. In the United States kratom is sold as a dietary supplement, and it is not regulated like a prescription drug. However, it has side effects that can harm both you and your baby.

Some people take kratom to increase energy, reduce pain, or reduce anxiety or depression. Some believe kratom will ease withdrawal symptoms because kratom can cause feelings of euphoria. If you feel tired or ill during your pregnancy, kratom may seem like a good way to ease your symptoms.

However, kratom has many side effects, including weight loss, nausea and vomiting, liver damage, changes in urination, and constipation. Kratom may also cause dizziness, delusions and seizures. It may suppress your breathing and lead to coma and death.

Even worse, if you take kratom regularly during pregnancy, after birth your baby may need treatment for withdrawal. Withdrawal is a form of dependence that develops after long-term use of pain medications. Sweating, restlessness and trembling are common during withdrawal and may last for several days to weeks.

In one study, people who used kratom for more than six months experienced withdrawal symptoms similar to those that occur after opioid use. A 2019 study of reports to poison control centers reported seven cases involving infants, with five born in withdrawal because their mothers had taken kratom during pregnancy. Some people who become dependent on kratom require the same medications used to treat withdrawal from pain medications.

In addition, it's possible to overdose on kratom. The treatment for kratom overdose is similar to that for opioid overdose, and people experience many of the same treatment problems. Kratom has caused at least 36 deaths.

If you're pregnant or you become pregnant while taking kratom, talk with your doctor about ways to safely stop using it. Kratom poses risks to your health and your baby's health. Your doctor can help you find more effective ways to treat symptoms of pregnancy.

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