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Is It Safe to Use Ranitidine in Pregnancy?

By N. Swensson
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Use of ranitidine in pregnancy is generally believed to be safe, although pregnant women should seek the advice of a physician before taking it. The drug is also known by its brand name, Zantac®, and is used to prevent heartburn, which is a common symptom in all stages of pregnancy. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies ranitidine as a category B medication, which means that animal testing has not shown any harmful effects on fetuses, but human testing has not been conducted. Ranitidine in pregnancy has also been safely used to prevent Mendelson’s syndrome, a condition in which a person’s stomach contents are aspirated into the lungs while under anesthesia. As with any medication, the benefits of taking ranitidine while pregnant should be weighed against any potential risks.

Ranitidine may be taken on a daily basis or intermittently as needed by people who suffer from chronic heartburn, gastric reflux, a stomach ulcer, or other illnesses that cause excessive stomach acid. Unlike antacid tablets, which are taken at the onset of a reflux attack, ranitidine is usually taken to prevent symptoms from occurring. In many cases, a woman who is trying to become pregnant may already be taking ranitidine, but will be advised by a physician to stop using all medications to minimize any risk to a potential pregnancy. A woman who is concerned about taking ranitidine or stopping its use may seek the advice of her physician, who may be able to suggest alternatives, such as home remedies, to treat acid reflux. In cases where a stomach condition is very severe or will cause additional complications, the doctor may suggest that it is safer to continue using ranitidine in pregnancy.

The FDA categorizes medications according to their potential risk to a developing fetus based on scientific testing, usually conducted on animals. Ranitidine is in pregnancy category B, meaning that it is generally safe for use during pregnancy according to animal studies, although it is known to cross the placenta and be absorbed by the fetus. Like most medications, however, human clinical trials have not been conducted to completely rule out the possibility of harm. Some scientific evidence of the safety of ranitidine in pregnancy is available from women who have used the drug with no more negative effects on their babies than women who did not use it. Ranitidine has also been given during cesarean section to prevent Mendelson’s syndrome without any resulting harm to the unborn baby.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By ElizaBennett — On Jan 04, 2012

Heartburn during pregnancy can really be a killer, but I would always advise trying something non-medical first. It's especially important during the first trimester; baby is not quite as vulnerable after that time.

Not eating giant meals (especially at night) but eating often, chewing gum after each meal (saliva is supposed to help with stomach acid somehow), and sleeping with my head elevated were the keys for me.

That said, I don't want anyone to suffer. If lifestyle modifications aren't doing the trick, well, talk to your doctor and do what you need to do! Zantac is just one of several heartburn medicines that are category B that you can try.

By dfoster85 — On Jan 03, 2012

My doctor gave me quite a long list of heartburn medicines that are generally considered safe - I think it was just all the category B ones. He seemed pretty comfortable with prescribing and recommending drugs - much more so than I was!

I preferred to take Tums since I needed the calcium anyway (I quit taking my other calcium supplement to make sure I didn't overdo it). I got pretty good relief from those and from being careful of my own personal heartburn triggers. (For me, almonds were the worst and cottage cheese was the best. That's what I would eat in the middle of the night to make sure I wouldn't get sick.)

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