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Fetal Exposure to Isotretinoin Entails Substantial Risks

Review of literature finds high percentage of birth defects and miscarriage

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 26 (HealthDay News) -- There is no safe level of exposure to isotretinoin during pregnancy, according to a review of the medical literature in the September issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

Karen E. Harman, M.D., of the Leicester Royal Infirmary in Leicester, England, and a colleague extracted data from two prospective studies that, together, reported results from 151 American women aged 14 years and older whose fetuses were exposed to isotretinoin.

When the fetus is exposed to isotretinoin there is an 18 percent to 28 percent risk of isotretinoin embryopathy and an approximately 20 percent risk of miscarriage. Between 65 and 82 percent of newborns exposed to isotretinoin in utero appear normal at birth, although how many subsequently develop isotretinoin-related problems is unknown. The authors suggest that women whose fetus is exposed to isotretinoin require careful support and monitoring.

"Finally, it is important that dermatologists prevent pregnant women from taking isotretinoin and prevent women who are taking it from getting pregnant," the authors conclude.

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