Acne medications are another story: Some can cause severe birth defects. “High doses of vitamin A should be avoided,” Filkins says. “Retin-A, which contains a vitamin A derivative, poses a theoretical risk, but Accutane is definitely dangerous.” To be safe, don’t use either. In fact, you should stop using both at least one month before trying to get pregnant.
Even riskier is Etretinate, a psoriasis medication. “Etretinate stays in the body for a very long time—up to two years—so it isn’t a concern just during pregnancy,” Filkins explains. “It shouldn’t be used at all if you’re planning a pregnancy any time in the future.”
6) answer: b
Most women can have sex up until the day they deliver without fear of bringing on premature labor. However, if you have had preterm-labor symptoms during this or a previous pregnancy, if your water has broken or if you have had problems with bleeding, your doctor may ask you to abstain from intercourse. “But that’s the exception, not the rule,” Berens says.
Prolonged standing—working full-time as a cashier, for example—is linked to preterm labor, as is contracting some vaginal infections during pregnancy.
Finally, the births of as many as 18 percent of preterm, low-birth-weight babies in the United States each year may be attributed to their mothers’ gum disease, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Scientists theorize that bacteria in tooth plaque send toxins into the mother’s bloodstream and then cross the placenta, interfering with fetal growth and development.
7) answer: a
If you’ve been choking down liver and onions for their supposed health benefits, you can—and should—take a breather. Because an average portion of liver can contain four to 12 times the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin A (too-high amounts of which can cause urinary tract and central nervous system anomalies in the fetus), some experts recommend avoiding this organ meat altogether in early pregnancy. Others suggest limiting your intake of liver and liver products (such as duck liver pâtés and some sausages) to 4 ounces per week during pregnancy.
8) answer: a
Studies have not shown the flu vaccine to pose risks to a pregnant woman or her baby. In fact, because pregnant women are at increased risk of flu complications, ACOG now recommends that all women receive the flu shot before or during pregnancy, regardless of what trimester they are in. “It’s dangerous for pregnant women to get the flu because it can progress to pneumonia,” Filkins explains.