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Thalidomide in Pregnancy

Thalidomide is a drug that was marketed outside of the United States in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. It was used as a sleeping pill, and to treat morning sickness during pregnancy. However, its use by pregnant women resulted in the birth of thousands of deformed babies.

Thalomid (thalidomide) is now approved to treat the painful, disfiguring skin sores associated with leprosy, and to prevent and control the return of these skin sores.

A pregnant woman or any woman thinking about becoming pregnant must not take Thalomid (thalidomide), because it is known to cause severe birth defects or death to an unborn baby, even after taking just one dose. When a woman of child-bearing age has no other appropriate treatment choice and must take Thalomid (thalidomide), there are many precautions that must be taken to avoid pregnancy. Some of these precautions include:

  • A pregnancy test 24 hours before taking Thalomid (thalidomide) and then weekly during the first month of use; then monthly in women with regular menstrual cycles, or every 2 weeks if menstrual cycles are irregular as long as you are taking Thalomid (thalidomide).
  • Committing to either not having heterosexual sexual intercourse, or to using two methods of birth control starting 4 weeks before your first dose of Thalomid (thalidomide) and continuing for 4 weeks after your last dose of Thalomid (thalidomide).
  • A woman must also not breast-feed a baby while taking Thalomid (thalidomide) because of possible side effects to the infant.

The information in this page is presented in summarised form and has been taken from the following source(s):
1. U.S. Federal Food and Drug Administration, Office of Women's Health, Online:

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Contact Last modified: Oct 21 2004