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Pentobarbital Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Warnings

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 3, 2021.

Pentobarbital is also known as: Nembutal, Nembutal Sodium

Pentobarbital Pregnancy Warnings

This drug is only recommended for use during pregnancy when there are no alternatives and the benefit outweighs the risk.

US FDA pregnancy category: D

-If this drug is used during pregnancy, or if the patient becomes pregnant while taking this drug, the patient should be apprised of the potential harm to the fetus.
-Use of adequate non-hormonal methods of contraception should be encouraged.
-If used during labor, the newborn should be monitored for respiratory depression and resuscitation equipment should be available.
-If used during pregnancy, the newborn should be monitored for acute withdrawal syndrome symptoms for up to 14 days after birth.

Human studies suggest that barbiturate use is connected to a higher than expected incidence of fetal abnormalities. Fetal blood levels approached maternal levels with parenteral administration. This drug crosses the placental barrier and distributes in fetal tissues, including the placenta, liver, and brain (e.g., cardiac defects, cleft lips, cleft palates, microcephaly, neural tube defects). Use during the first and third trimesters may be associated with an increased risk of teratogenicity and withdrawal symptoms in the newborn, respectively. This drug decreases the force and frequency of uterine contractions when used at full anesthetic doses. The effects of this drug on later growth, development, and functional maturity of pediatric patients are unknown.

US FDA pregnancy category D: There is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience or studies in humans, but potential benefits may warrant use of the drug in pregnant women despite potential risks.

See references

Pentobarbital Breastfeeding Warnings

Caution is recommended.

Excreted into human milk: Yes

The effects in the nursing infant are unknown.
-Some experts recommend using alternative agents (e.g., zaleplon, zolpidem), especially when breastfeeding a preterm or newborn infant.

See references

References for pregnancy information

  1. "Product Information. Pentobarbital (pentobarbital)." Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories (2001):
  2. "Product Information. Nembutal Sodium (pentobarbital)." Abbott Pharmaceutical (2001):

References for breastfeeding information

  1. "Product Information. Pentobarbital (pentobarbital)." Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories (2001):
  2. "Product Information. Nembutal Sodium (pentobarbital)." Abbott Pharmaceutical (2001):
  3. United States National Library of Medicine "Toxnet. Toxicology Data Network." (2013):

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.