April 25, 2023

ADHD Medication and Pregnancy - NEW Study Alert!

I believe I have the best Mother’s Day gift ever for adult women with ADHD! There is a new study revealing that there is no connection to children developing neurological conditions or physical impairments whose mothers took ADHD medication when pregnant.

This is huge news! Please see below for links to this study and two additional supporting articles. 

This episode is all about prioritizing your needs for mental and physical wellness. You deserve nurturing as much as your baby. There are enough pressures in this world on pregnant women and mothers, and I’m here to tell you that YOU MATTER TOO.

Medication can and should be considered for pregnant women with ADHD that benefit from it. At the end of the day, the decision is yours. The responsibility to do the research and talk to your doctor is yours. But I’m so happy to see actual research out in the world today in support of ADHD medication for mamas that could really need it.

You don’t have to go through this season alone. My group coaching program FOCUSED is filled with women, parents and adults with all kinds of life experiences ready to welcome you in our community with open arms. Come check us out!



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Kristen Carder

Welcome to the I have ADHD podcast, where it’s all about education, encouragement and coaching for adults with ADHD. I’m your host, Kristen Carter and I have ADHD. Let’s chat about the frustrations, humor and challenges of adulting relationships working and achieving with this neurodevelopmental disorder. I’ll help you understand your unique brain. Unlock your potential and move from point A to point B.

Hey, what’s up? This is Kristen Carter and you are listening to the I have ADHD podcast. I am medicated. I am caffeinated. I am regulated, and I’m ready to roll.

What’s up? What’s up? How are you? Hope you’re good. I hope that a whole month of talking about rejection and rejection sensitivity has not done you in Are you still with me? Are you okay? It’s been a quite the month for me personally, I’ve been really having to do a lot of self soothing and regulating and reminding myself that I am very safe. Even though I am putting out ideas into the world that might not be the same as everyone else’s. You know, just using all of the coping mechanisms on myself. So I hope that you are doing so well. And that those episodes on rejection have really been helpful and insightful. And I just want to reiterate that you get to do what you want to do. Because you are a grown autonomous, amazing adult, and I am not the boss of you.

I promise. Like I know that I hope you know that I’m not the boss of you, you get to decide whatever you want to do, I guess it’s a gorgeous April day, Spring has sprung. I’m so grateful. I think I talked about this last week, like spring always just comes that I’m so grateful I went for a hike this morning. It was a gore just so remember to get outside. Remember to take care of yourself. Even if the weather in your area is not great. Remember the saying there’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable gear. So maybe just like get yourself some new clothes, so that you can hike in the rain. Or you can go for a bike ride or a walk or whatever it is that you like to do to move your body in nature, I promise you, it’s gonna feel so good. When I started moving my body for my mental health, and for my own well being and wellness, it completely changed my perspective, because I used to force myself to work out to change the way that I looked to punish myself for eating, to punish myself really for just being human. And once I stopped looking at movement as punishment, and I started noticing how much it really does help my mental health, my well being my self regulation, my ability to just like cope throughout the day, it really changed my perspective, and then allowed me to be more agreeable, like I’m willing to do it, because it’s not a punishment, I’m willing to do it because I know it makes me feel good.

So if you’re still stuck in the trap of working out or moving your body, as punishment for yourself as punishment for like, you know, having skin and bones and fat, and organs, and all of the things that make up your body, like I don’t know why we punish ourselves for having a body. But I know that I certainly did. And I just want to encourage you that moving your body is actually a gift that you can give to your own mental health. It doesn’t even have to do anything with your body or it doesn’t have to it can be about your soul. It can be about your mind, it can be about your self regulation.

I didn’t mean to go off on this tangent, but I think it’s useful and I just want to encourage you that if you go for a walk or a bike ride or a swim, or however it is that you like to move, maybe you like to roller skate. I got roller skates for Christmas. I’m not gonna lie. They’re white, and they have pink wheels. And they’re so cute. And I don’t mind strapping them up and roller skating around, like the suburban mom that I am.

Okay, let’s move on. This is a really exciting episode. It’s going to be short. It’s going to be short, but it is exciting. I think it’s so important for me to share this new study with all of you. There’s not a whole lot to say about it. Unless of course we get lost in rabbit trails and rants as we do sometimes.

But the main point here is that a recent study out of Denmark shows that and I quote, There is absolutely no higher risk of adverse developmental effects from the meta kishin on children who have been exposed to ADHD medication during their mother’s pregnancy. Whoo, whoo. This is so exciting. Amazing, amazing, amazing. And I’m gonna go into lots of detail. I’ll be reading most of the article for you here. But I just think we need to pop some champagne and celebrate because this is the study that so many of you have been waiting for. This is the study that I wish existed when I was pregnant with my three kiddos, as you might remember, because I’ve told my story a couple of times, but I took an almost 10 year hiatus from medication when I was pregnant and nursing and parenting toddlers. And it was by far, the most unhealthy and unhappy time of my adult life. I was riddled with anxiety, I was unable to sleep.

Unbeknownst to me, I was constantly in fight flight mode. I was hyper vigilant, I was overwhelmed and I was under supported and my kiddos were the ones who suffered the most. It was excruciating for me, but it was my kids who suffered the most. Now I remember asking my midwives, if I could please be on my ADHD medication throughout my pregnancies. And, gosh, I have so much compassion for that former version of myself. Because if you’ve been through this, you know, it’s such a vulnerable place to be in where you’re asking, Could you maybe possibly put yourself ahead of your developing baby? Oh, gosh. But even at 27 years old, you know, I was I was very young. I knew that my ADHD meds were vital to my survival and my mental health. And I really wanted and desperately needed someone to say, Listen, Kristen, of course, we want to keep your baby healthy. But you matter here to your mental health matters.

Your physical health matters. And if you can’t be mentally or physically healthy without these medications, then let’s consider making an exception. Let’s just consider it. Let’s talk about it. Let’s consider it but no one said that. And it was almost shameful that I would ask such a thing, right? It was like, it was almost like I felt so much shame that I was asking and potentially like putting my baby at risk for my own selfish reasons. And since I’m on this tangent, I’m going to keep going. I wish also that someone had told me that it would be healthier for me to feed my baby formula and take ADHD medication than it would be to nurse my baby but be in a constant state of overwhelm anxiety and hyper vigilance. For me personally, I think that would have been healthier.

But no, I was in a super crunchy phase at the time. And if you don’t know the term crunchy, it’s just a word to describe people who are wanting to live life as naturally as possible, maybe going against you know, cultural norms as it pertains to like medicine and food and all of that wanting to be as healthy and natural as possible.

So I was in a very crunchy phase, I was cloth diapering, I was making my own detergent. I was making tortillas from scratch when we would have tacos, like it was a whole different version of Kristen Carter at the time. And for those of you who know, truly, when a mama is having like a baby and has a little infant, the only thing that crunchy people care about is that you breastfeed your baby successfully. And let me tell you, that was my top priority. That’s all I cared about.

Not that I was mentally stable, or emotionally healthy. Not that I could nurture my baby with consistent attachment and care and be there for my baby consistently. No, the only thing I cared about was, am I breastfeeding and if I could breastfeed successfully that I felt like a success. Okay, someday side note, I hope to have a crunchy expert, crunchy colts experts on the podcast because I truly believe that what I participated in, pretending to be all natural and crunchy.

It was a little culty just a little culty which makes sense given my history. Which maybe I’ll go into some day I’m getting I’m getting I promise that we’re gonna get back to the point here so I’m having to take some like deep breaths and really see self regulate while I’m getting this all out to you, because I’m just remembering how difficult it was to be a young mom. And if this is you, I just want to send you all of the big, big, big hugs. And I want to tell you that yes, of course, your baby’s health is top priority. But you matter to you’re not just a host. You’re not just a host of the baby, you’re a human. And I think that’s how we treat pregnant mamas, you know, as like a host for the actual thing that we care about, which is the baby. And of course, I just want to insert here that like, yes, babies are precious, and we should do everything we can to protect them. But also the mama is a person to the mama is a human with needs and rights and pregnant mamas with mental health conditions should strongly consider prioritizing their mental health.

Now, I just remember a couple years speaking to Dr. Russell Barkley about this very topic, and he was so sweet and kind and really encouraging to pregnant moms. And so was Dr. Patricia Quinn, who was on the podcast as well. Her episode was number 149, which was called Women with ADHD, how estrogen impacts our symptoms. And she was so encouraging and even encouraged the idea of pregnant mamas prioritizing their mental health and considering with their doctor, taking ADHD medication. But of course, this study that we’re talking about today hadn’t come out yet. And so there was no reliable evidence that this is indeed safe. And now there is

no, there is okay, I am going to link three things in the show notes. So I’m going to link to different articles. And I’m also just going to go ahead and link the study itself. Or I guess it’s not the study, I don’t know what it is. It’s like the study report. It is called in utero exposure to ADHD medication and long term offspring outcomes.

Okay, I think the most easily digestible explanation of this study comes from Mount Sinai Health who participated in the study. And so I’m going to, of course, link the article for you. But I’m going to read some of it for you here. And I quote, women around the world who have taken medication to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder during their pregnancy can now breathe a sigh of relief. There is no difference in rates of neurodevelopmental disorders between children who were exposed, and those who were unexposed to stimulant medication in utero, according to new research conducted by research. Oh, there’s a typo here. Oh, my goodness, I want you to see this. So this is news wise. It is from Mount Sinai Health System, we can assume that these people are incredibly, incredibly smart. And there’s still a typo in their article.

And so can we just take a minute and say that when you mess up, it’s not because you’re a bad person? It’s not because you’re dumb. It’s not because you’re lazy or stupid, or you should have been paying better attention. Because even the like leaders in our society, even the medical elite, are making typos in their publications. Love it.

I’m going to read it how it’s written because it written wrong, and I think we should all see it. According to new research conducted by research conducted by interesting, the ikan School of Medicine at my Mount Sinai in New York, and our Haas University in Denmark and published February 9, in molecular psychology.

Okay, stay with me. I’m continuing to read here we go. This study on ADHD medication during pregnancy is the first to examine long term neurodevelopment. After prenatal exposure to stimulants. The researchers examined more than 1 million children born between 1998 and 2015 in Denmark, and followed through 2018. They identified almost 900 children whose mothers either continued treatment with ADHD medication throughout the pregnancy or started on ADHD medication during pregnancy.

And 1270 children whose mothers stopped taking ADHD medication before pregnancy. So we’ve got a subset of kiddos who were exposed to medication and then we have a subset of of mamas who were pregnant with ADHD but decided to stop taking their medication. Here’s the amazing part. The reason Researchers found no changes in the likelihood of developing a neurodevelopmental disorder among children who were exposed to ADHD medication during their mother’s pregnancy.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 4% of women ages 15 to 44 years old, are using ADHD medication in the US making these medications among the most prescribed medications during pregnancy. Currently, there are no clinical guidelines in relation to pregnancy and ADHD medication, which Kristin Carter side note here really needs to change.

You know, I’m saying it is so difficult that there are no guidelines, and then it’s just up to the mother. That’s really difficult. Okay. So, which they’re acknowledging here, which poses a problem for psychiatrists, general practitioners, midwives, nurses, and other health care professionals who are tasked with advising women before conception or during pregnancy. The researchers investigated whether the children in the study had developed neurological developmental disorders, including autism and ADHD, impaired vision or hearing epilepsy free bro, Feb real I don’t know how to say this word I’m so sorry. febrile seizures, or growth. It says growth retardation. I don’t know if I can read that on this podcast. I just hate that word so much. I just hate that word.

And I know we’re just talking about growth, but still, I’m gonna read what’s there, or growth retardation. hoof that was hard. That was hard for me. What is so amazing here is that they weren’t just studying developmental disorders like autism or ADHD, but also impaired vision. Does it stunt your growth? Does it cause epilepsy or seizures? They were really looking at a wide range of effects that potentially they worried that babies might experience who were exposed to ADHD meds and the amazing thing is they didn’t. Okay, I’m going to continue to read just a little bit more.

Previous animal studies and studies of illicit drug use in humans have shown that centrally stimulating drugs like methylphenidate and amphetamine, which are the most frequently used for ADHD can pass to the fetus and have adverse effects. Therefore, it’s important to know that no long term adverse effects had been found so far in human children who were prenatally exposed to therapeutic doses. That’s the key therapeutic doses of prescription stimulants. It’s encouraging. This is amazing. This is amazing. Now I’m going to continue to read at the same time the research team emphasizes that this study should be followed up.

Oh, look, I found another typo. Isn’t this so exciting? Isn’t it so great to find typo in really smart people’s work? Can you please just give yourself a break when you mess up, because even the most reputable scientific medical journals have typos? I’m gonna read it the way it’s written. At the same time, the research team emphasizes that this study should be follows up by additional research, including inquiry into short term outcomes, given that ADHD medication during pregnancy might be associated with other types of outcomes besides neurodevelopmental.

Okay. So this is wonderful, wonderful, wonderful news. Such good news. I’m gonna like I said, the length the articles this. This is an article about the study. I’m also going to link the study and one thing that I found really interesting, let me find it here.

They made note of the different types of medication that the mamas were taking. So it wasn’t just stimulant medication. They did study children whose mothers took all different types of prescribed ADHD medication. So I’m going to read directly from the study. This is a quote, children of mothers who continue to ADHD medication and then in parentheses, methylphenidate amphetamine, Dex amphetamine, another one I can’t pronounce that starts with an L and amoxicillin clonidine. Okay, so they list a bunch of different 12345677 Different ADHD medications. So it’s not like they were only studying methylphenidate or amphetamine but they were also studying different types of medications that were prescribed to mamas during their pregnancy. So, everyone, this is good. News.

And of course, as an adult autonomous human, you’ll still have to decide for yourself what your comfortability level is. Because right now there are no medical guidelines for it. So you’re still going to have to make a decision for yourself. You also have to decide if you want to breastfeed. And if you’ll be taking medication through that phase, which, by the way, I really wish was mentioned somewhere here in the study. So I’m about to go off in another tangent, I hope you can stick with me. I haven’t been able to find any mention of it in the articles or in the study itself, but I’m going to make an assumption.

Now, this is simply a Kristen Carter assumption based on my own thinking, and nothing else. Okay. Okay. But my assumption is that the women who took medication during pregnancy, also continued to take the medication after the child’s birth. That would be a logical assumption, right. And a percentage of those women who continue to take medication after the child’s birth, likely nursed their babies. I mean, it does, it just seems logical. Although I must repeat that it is my own conclusion, and not based on any of the data provided. I just did a short search on the Danish breastfeeding rates since this was a study done on Danish babies. So the breastfeeding rate is kind of low with about 85% of the babies being exclusively breastfed, and so for months, and then only 10% of the babies being exclusively breastfed until six months. But still, if we applied those percentages to the study and assumed that of the 900 children whose mothers continued treatment for ADHD during pregnancy, and we, you know, assume that they continued after the baby was born, potentially 85% of those babies potentially were breastfed until four months.

That means that 765 of those babies had exposure to medication, through pregnancy, and nursing. And so for months, I mean, I know I’m creating my own conclusions here. So please, please, please, just only see this as an intellectual exercise and not as like a solid conclusion. But I wonder if we could kind of apply this to not just pregnancy, but pregnancy and nursing. Again, it’s a question not an answer, not a conclusion, just a question. Anyway, this is a big day, this is a really, really big day for pregnant moms with ADHD. And those of you who are trying to conceive, or think you may want to become pregnant some day, big, yay.

Again, all of these articles are going to be listed in the show notes. You may even want to bring them to your doctor appointments, because remember, it’s your job to be the ADHD expert, you can’t trust your clinician is going to know much about ADHD, you just can’t. And so if you would like to consider taking medication for ADHD during your pregnancy, I would highly recommend printing out this study, printing out an article or two that kind of describes it and explains it and then having a very candid conversation with your doctor about the implications and what it means. And if your doctor shames you, belittles you doesn’t listen to you go find a new doctor. Not so that you can get your way necessarily, but so that you know that you are in the care of someone who hears you. Because that is very important. It’s very important because when you can trust that your clinician hears you sees you is willing to listen, then you can trust their advice, right?

But it’s very hard to trust the advice of someone who is dismissive, who doesn’t listen, who thinks that they know everything and you know nothing who doesn’t want to prioritize you or who you are or what you need. All right, I am pumped about this study. I hope this makes your day. I hope this makes your day. Please check out the resources in the show notes and I am going to talk to you next week. See ya.

A few years ago I went looking for help. I wanted to find someone to teach me how to feel better about myself and to help me improve my organization productivity time management, emotional regulation. You know all the things that we adults with ADHD struggle with. It couldn’t find anything. So I researched and I studied and I hired coaches and I figured it out. Then I created focused for you. Focus is my monthly coaching membership where I teach educated professional adults how to accept their ADHD brain and hijack their ability to get stuff done. Hundreds of people from all over the world are already benefiting From this program and I’m confident that you will to go to I have adhd.com/focus for all details

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