Valtrex is widely utilised all over the world in the treatment of herpes infections. Its clinical application ranges from use in cold sores all the way to genital herpes and shingles. It acts by breaking down into its active component acyclovir which is turn has a strong anti-viral action.
When taking medication, certain precautions need to be taken. In particular, in women, the use of valacyclovir must be reviewed if the patient is pregnant or during breastfeeding. In this article, we shall review the possible problems with using Valtrex in pregnancy and during breast feeding.
Valtrex in pregnancy
From the available data, there does not appear to be any significant effect of using valacyclovir during pregnancy on the growing fetus. There has been no effect on the way the fetus grows and as such no foetal defects have been reported. Valacyclovir has been placed in category B by the US FDA meaning that there is no significant toxicity as such.
That being said, every patient must have their risk and benefit profile assessed before the drug is prescribed. This means that when a healthcare professional sees a pregnant woman suffering from herpes infections, they must determine if using Valtrex will actually benefit the patient rather than harm the patient. It is for this reason that it is strongly recommended that Valtrex only be taken during pregnancy when the need is important.
Valtrex during breastfeeding
Given that Valtrex is used in the management of herpes infections in patients who have low levels of immunity (such as HIV infection), the probability of it causing any problems in the child is low. This is because women who are HIV-positive are strongly advised not to breast feed the child as this can infect that the child as well.
The active component of Valtrex i.e. acyclovir is present in breast milk when the drug is taken orally. This means that if the drug is taken by a breastfeeding mother, chances are the baby will also have Valtrex in their system. However, the form that is available is not the inactive Valtrex but the active acyclovir.
As always, it is strongly recommended that all women who are breastfeeding and are suffering from herpes infections visit their health care professional to determine whether taking Valtrex is safe or not. The practitioner will only prescribe the drug if the benefits of taking the drug during breast feeding outweigh the risks of harming the infant. Many a times, alternative treatments may be used to treat herpes infections rather than use acyclovir and Valtrex due to the possible risks associated with the drug.
Valtrex is a commonly prescribed anti-viral agent that acts by releasing an active component called acyclovir. While the use of the drug in pregnancy is relatively safe, it does appear that the drug is excreted in the breast milk. The drug must only be taken on advice by a healthcare professional and only when the benefits of taking the drug outweigh the risks.