If You Have PCOS, Should You Take Metformin While Pregnant?

Metformin is commonly prescribed for treating the insulin resistance aspect of PCOS. If you become pregnant, some doctors are recommending that metformin be continued, at least during the early phases of pregnancy. This idea behind this appears to be that taking metformin might produce better pregnancy outcomes.

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Does Metformin Improve Pregnancy Outcome?

Quite a few of you ask whether you should take metformin (Glucophage) during your pregnancy. Possibly your doctor said you should take it. Metformin is a drug that is used to reduce insulin resistance.

Metformin is widely prescribed to pregnant women with PCOS in an attempt to reduce pregnancy complications. However, metformin is not approved for this indication, and evidence for this practice is lacking.

A recent Norwegian study may shed some light on this issue. They gave a group of 257 pregnant PCOS women either metformin, or a placebo during their pregnancies.

The group was evaluated for adverse pregnancy outcomes such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, or preterm delivery.

The evaluations showed that metformin was no more effective than a placebo in reducing overall pregnancy complications.

If you are told to take metformin during your pregnancy, make sure that you fully understand WHY you are taking it.

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Secondly, it's well known that long-term consumption of metformin can induce a vitamin B12 insufficiency. You do not want to have a vitamin B12 insufficiency while you are pregnant. Your developing baby needs B12. If you do take metformin, you might consider a vitamin B12 supplement.

Don't be afraid to ask your doctor questions. After all, it's your body. And it's your baby.

Source: Vanky E et al, Metformin Versus Placebo from First Trimester to Delivery in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Randomized, Controlled Multicenter Study, J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Oct 6. [Epub ahead of print]

Does Metformin Have Any Effect on Your Baby?

Are you wondering how this drug might affect your unborn baby? Metformin can pass through the placenta and possibly influence the fetus. Could there be any long-term effects on the fetus?

A Scandinavian study looked at this question. The researchers did a follow up study of mothers who had polycystic ovary syndrome and had either taken metformin or a placebo while pregnant. Twenty-five children of these mothers were evaluated at ages 7-9.

There were no differences in the children in terms of height, weight or body composition. However, children of mothers taking metformin during pregnancy had higher blood sugar levels and higher blood pressure than children of mothers who did not take metformin.

It's not clear whether this difference is just coincidental or insignificant -- or whether it may mean something. More research is definitely needed on the long-term effects of metformin on children of PCOS mothers.

Source: Ra TB et al, Growth, body composition and metabolic profile of 8-year-old children exposed to metformin in utero. Scand J Clin Lab Invest. 2012 Nov;72(7):570-5.

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