Acebutolol and Pregnancy
Based on the results of animal studies, acebutolol does not appear to pose a significant risk to a developing fetus. The full risks of using this drug in pregnant women are not known, however, since animals do not always respond to drugs the same way that humans do. If pregnancy occurs while you are taking acebutolol, be sure to notify your healthcare provider.
Acebutolol hydrochloride (Sectral®) is a prescription beta blocker medication approved to treat high blood pressure. Based on the results of animal studies and limited experience with the drug in pregnant women, acebutolol does not seem pose a significant risk to a developing fetus, although the full risks are currently unknown.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses a pregnancy category system to classify the possible risks to a fetus when a specific medicine is taken during pregnancy. Pregnancy Category B is given to medicines that have not been adequately studied in pregnant humans but do not appear to cause harm to the fetus in animal studies. Medications that have been shown to be safe for use in pregnancy in humans (even though they have caused problems in laboratory animals) are also given a Category B rating.
When given to pregnant rats and rabbits, high doses of acebutolol did not cause any birth defects. Very high doses caused poor fetal growth in rabbits, although this only happened at doses high enough to cause problems for the mother rats. Additionally, giving diacetolol (a similar substance) to pregnant rats and rabbits at high doses increased the risk of miscarriages. Although the body metabolizes acebutolol into diacetolol, it is not clear if acebutolol could also cause such problems.
However, it is important to note that animals do not always respond to medicines the same way that humans do. Therefore, a pregnancy Category B medicine should be given to a pregnant woman if the healthcare provider believes that the benefits to the pregnant woman outweigh any possible risks to the unborn child.
With beta blockers in general, there have been reports of slowed intrauterine growth, small placentas, and birth defects related to the use of beta blockers usage during pregnancy. With acebutolol in particular, there have been reports of low birth weight, low blood pressure, and slow heart rates in newborns whose mothers took the medication during pregnancy.