Dear Bundoo: Will using birth control affect my unborn baby?
Is it possible to get pregnant while on birth control? One mom-to-be wonders what effects the pill will have on her unborn child. Another mom is unsure about how to get vaccines for her children as they travel abroad this summer. See what our doctors say in this week’s Dear Bundoo.
I just found out I’m pregnant, which was quite a shock since I’ve been on birth control pills for two years. I knew there was always a small chance the pill would fail, but now that I’m pregnant, we decided we want to keep the baby and I’m worried that it could have some effect on my baby. Is there any chance that taking hormones like that will cause a birth defect or some other problem? Will the chance of miscarriage be higher, or is there a greater chance the baby will be a girl because I was taking estrogen? I really don’t know anything about this and can’t find information anywhere on what happens if you get pregnant while you’re already on birth control.
Dear Pill Pregnancy,
I am sorry you are dealing with this stress and that your birth control method did not work for you! In truth, you are certainly not alone. Of 100 women who use the combination birth control pill, about 9 of them will get pregnant every year—and this failure rate adds up over time. That means that after two years of typical use, about 17 or 18 women out of 100 will still get pregnant when taking the pill.
That said, if you’ve decided to continue the pregnancy, you should be reassured to know that no definitive evidence exists that shows that conceiving while taking a birth control pill is harmful to your developing baby. There’s a lot of hypothetical risks you might read about (especially online!), but none of them have ever been proven in any studies. When it comes to picking a birth control method after you give birth, you may want to consider options with much lower failure rates – intrauterine devices (IUDs) and progestin implants (like Nexplanon) have a less than 1 percent failure rate, for example, and might work best for you.
—Answered by Jen Lincoln, MD, IBCLC, Bundoo OB/GYN
We are planning a trip this summer out of the country with our two children, ages 6 months and 2 years. How can I find out if there are any special vaccines recommended for international travel?
—Out of town
Dear Out of town,
Planning ahead is key when traveling abroad with children. Depending on where you are going, your child may require extra immunizations to protect against diseases (for example, yellow fever) that are not present in the US. The first step is to look up your destination on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website Traveler’s Health. There you will enter the country you are planning to visit, check the box that reads “traveling with children” then “go.” The site will give you information about any vaccinations and medications that might be recommended for your trip. Once you have this information, call your pediatrician to see if they carry all needed vaccinations and schedule a “travel clinic visit” to prepare. If your doctor does not carry a specific vaccine, then seek out your local health department, as they often will. It’s a good idea to receive any recommended vaccinations at least four weeks prior to departure so the body has ample time to amount an immune response that would protect your child if they came in contact with the disease. Be aware that your insurance company might not cover the cost of any vaccines that are outside what is required in the United States.
—Answered by Sara Connolly, MD, FAAP, Bundoo Pediatrician
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