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The Effects of Birth Control Taken While Pregnant

author image Elizabeth Thatcher
Based outside Boston, Elizabeth Thatcher began writing health-related articles in 2007. Her work has appeared in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Science," "Nature Genetics," "Journal of Cell Biology," "Developmental Dynamics," "RNA Biology" and "BMC Genomics." Thatcher earned a Bachelor of Science in biomedical engineering from Mercer University before starting medical research and receiving her doctorate in molecular biology from Vanderbilt University.
The Effects of Birth Control Taken While Pregnant
Birth control is unlikely to cause any problems in the event of an unplanned pregnancy. Photo Credit: Hill Street Studios/Blend Images/Getty Images

Birth control methods include hormonal contraceptives, such as pills, shots and patches. Each method and brand has a unique mixture of estrogen and progestin and delivery molecules that can potentially affect a fetus. Before taking birth control, read the drug information provided with the prescription to determine what the exact risks are in the event of pregnancy. In most cases, taking birth control during the first four to eight weeks of a pregnancy will have no ill side-effects on a fetus, according to Regardless of any potential risk factors or lack thereof, stop taking birth control and consult a physician if pregnancy is likely.

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Risk of Birth Defects

The possibility of birth defects concerns many women who become pregnant while taking birth control pills. However, there is no scientific evidence that taking birth control pills during early pregnancy affects the rate of birth defects. In fact, indicates that since birth control became popular in the 1990s, many women continue to take birth control for four to eight weeks after conception, without subsequent complications, since they are unaware that they are pregnant. However, indicates that Yasmin, one brand of birth control, produced an esophageal birth defect in one out of 14 babies born to women who accidentally took Yasmin during the first trimester of pregnancy. This study has not been repeated on a larger scale to verify whether the occurrence of the birth defect was related to Yasmin use or simply due to chance.

Pregnancy Test Results

Birth control affects the amount of estrogen and progestin in the body in order to regulate the menstrual cycle. Although suggests that many women believe the elevated hormone levels in birth control may prevent an at-home pregnancy test from working, the test actually measures the levels of HCG or human chorionic gonadotropin, which is a hormone that is elevated during pregnancy. Thus, at-home pregnancy tests should accurately determine if you are pregnant, regardless of the type of birth control you are taking.

Risk of Miscarriage

The risk of miscarriage due to birth control is possible; however, no statistical data in humans has been compiled. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration tries to clarify the risk to a fetus by classifying birth control methods in separate categories based on the possibility of damage to the fetus in the event of pregnancy. For instance, reports that Yasmin has been placed in category X due to the fact that animal studies have shown that some of the chemicals in Yasmin have produced miscarriages. None of the statistics have been verified in humans.

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