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Key Points

  • Adderall is a commonly prescribed drug to treat ADHD, but it has side effects and risks.
  • Taking Adderall during pregnancy has possible side effects for the mother and baby, including low birth weight and withdrawal for the newborn.
  • Alternative treatments for ADHD may be an option during pregnancy to reduce possible risks.
  • There’s limited research on the possible risks of Adderall and pregnancy, so it’s important to consult with your doctor about your options.

Pregnancy comes with a lot of restrictions for the safety of the expectant mother and developing baby, including avoiding alcohol, hot tubs, and certain medications – including Adderall. While this medication is generally safe for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), it can pose risks for pregnant women.

Find out more about the risks of Adderall and pregnancy and some alternatives for expecting mothers managing ADHD.

What Is Adderall?

Adderall is a combination drug that includes amphetamine and dextroamphetamine. These two drugs work together to stimulate the central nervous system and increase the availability of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain, which can relieve the symptoms of ADHD.

In some people, Adderall can improve attention and focus while reducing impulsive behaviors. According to a study of children with ADHD, the use of stimulants like Adderall can improve symptoms in 75 to 80% of patients.[1]

There are some risks to Adderall, however, including side effects like:[2]

  • Loss of appetite
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Restlessness
  • Weight loss
  • Cold or numbness in the extremities
  • Dependence and addiction

Pregnancy Risks with Adderall

Many people who take Adderall experience symptom relief, but it may not be as effective during pregnancy. While Adderall can have serious side effects such as increased blood pressure and heart rate, the specific risks of psychosis, heart attack, stroke, or death related to Adderall use in the general population are not directly correlated to pregnant women without additional risk factors.[3] Pregnant women should consult with their healthcare provider for a personalized risk assessment.

However, if the expectant mother has severe ADHD with symptoms that may inhibit her ability to care for herself properly and put the growing baby at risk by extension, the benefits of ADHD may outweigh the risks.

Risks to the Developing Baby

There’s not a lot of research into Adderall’s effects on pregnant mothers and their developing babies. It’s difficult to determine how medications may affect babies in utero, partly because conducting tests on human subjects would require subjecting pregnant women and their babies to potentially harmful drugs.

Current research, including animal studies and limited human data, suggests a potential link between Adderall use during pregnancy and increased risk of congenital abnormalities, but the evidence is not definitive.[4] Further research is needed to understand these potential risks better. However, the risks are categorized as “very low.”

In addition, when pregnant women take Adderall during pregnancy, the risk of low birth weight, premature delivery, and withdrawal symptoms are increased. However, more research is needed to determine Adderall’s exact effects during pregnancy and their likelihood.

Alternative ADHD Treatments During Pregnancy

Adderall alternatives while pregnantIf you’re concerned about the possible risks of taking Adderall during pregnancy, there are other alternatives.

Unfortunately, the usual alternative drugs like Ritalin and Vyvanse may also carry risks for pregnant women. Treatments that don’t involve medication, such as talk therapy, may help to manage the symptoms during pregnancy and eliminate the potential risks associated with stimulant medications.

Another alternative treatment for ADHD that’s showing promise is practicing relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga. According to a study, people with ADHD who practiced mindfulness saw an improvement in emotional regulation, which can, in turn, relieve some ADHD symptoms.[5]

For medication options, non-stimulant treatments such as certain tricyclic antidepressants have been considered for managing ADHD symptoms. While they may have a role in increasing norepinephrine levels, their safety during pregnancy varies, and they are not the first-line treatment for ADHD in pregnant women. Consulting with a healthcare provider is crucial to discuss the risks and benefits of all available treatments.

In some cases, your doctor may determine that staying on Adderall is the safer choice than risking the adverse effects of stopping its use during pregnancy. However, this may mean you need more rigorous monitoring to ensure you and your baby are healthy and properly developing.

Adderall While Trying to Conceive

The use of Adderall and other ADHD medications during pregnancy requires careful consideration due to potential risks. Animal studies have suggested possible reproductive effects, but direct extrapolation to humans is limited.[6] Individuals planning to conceive should discuss the timing of ADHD medication use with their healthcare provider to understand potential impacts and safety. Like Adderall studies during pregnancy, there haven’t been tests on Adderall’s effects on conception because of the potential risks.

If you’re trying to get pregnant and currently taking ADHD medication like Adderall, speak to your doctor to ensure it’s safe for you to continue.

Managing Adderall Abuse and Addiction During Pregnancy

While Adderall is a legal drug when taken as prescribed, it’s still a stimulant drug with abuse potential. People may abuse Adderall to feel euphoria, lose weight, or improve focus, which increases the potential for addiction and adverse effects.

For people with an Adderall addiction or current Adderall abuse who become pregnant, it’s not as simple to just quit taking the drug. Using Adderall can lead to dependence over time, which means your body is used to the presence of the drug. If you stop suddenly or reduce your dosage, you can experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

Adderall is tapered to minimize withdrawal symptoms and “wean” people off of the drug if they want to stop taking it. Depending on the severity of the abuse or addiction, entering a medical detox program may be recommended for pregnant women to provide a safe way to withdraw from the drug under the supervision and care of a medical team and prevent complications.

Once detox is complete, you may need a formal addiction treatment program on an inpatient or outpatient basis to overcome addiction to Adderall, not just for the remainder of the pregnancy but for long-term recovery.

Know the Potential Risks of Adderall and Pregnancy

While more research is needed, taking Adderall during pregnancy may pose risks to the mother and developing baby. It’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendation for taking Adderall while pregnant or seeking out alternative treatment options to manage ADHD symptoms while caring for your growing baby.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about Adderall and pregnancy.

Some alternative treatments for ADHD, such as bupropion and clonidine, have more evidence for safety in pregnancy.[7] However, like Adderall, there’s not a lot of evidence to determine if these drugs are effective and what potential risks they may have.

Research indicates that stimulant medications, including Adderall, can be transferred to the baby through breast milk. While the amount transferred is typically low at therapeutic doses, the potential effects on a breastfeeding infant are not fully understood, and individual risk assessment is necessary. Be sure to speak to your doctor about whether breastfeeding on Adderall is safe.

Research suggests that Adderall may not be safe to take during pregnancy for both the expectant mother and the developing baby. However, you should consult with your doctor about the benefits and risks of taking Adderall during pregnancy to ensure you’re making the best decision for you both.

Medications used to treat ADHD, including Adderall, can cross the placenta, potentially exposing the developing fetus to these drugs.[8] This transplacental transfer highlights the importance of carefully considering the use of ADHD medications during pregnancy.  That’s why it’s important to speak to your doctor about whether it’s safe to continue taking Adderall or other ADHD medications while pregnant.

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[1] Briars, L., & Todd, T. (2016). A Review of Pharmacological Management of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. The journal of pediatric pharmacology and therapeutics : JPPT : the official journal of PPAG, 21(3), 192–206. Retrieved from

[2] WebMD. (n.d.). Side effects of adderall: Blood pressure, heart rate and more. WebMD. Retrieved from

[3] Adderall: Uses, dosage, Side Effects & Safety Info. (n.d.-b). Retrieved from

[4] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, July 16). Use of ADHD medicine is increasing among pregnant women. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from

[5] Mitchell JT;McIntyre EM;English JS;Dennis MF;Beckham JC;Kollins SH; (n.d.). A pilot trial of mindfulness meditation training for ADHD in adulthood: Impact on core symptoms, executive functioning, and emotion dysregulation. Journal of attention disorders. Retrieved from

[6] Danborg, P. B., Simonsen, A. L., & Gøtzsche, P. C. (2017). Impaired reproduction after exposure to ADHD drugs: Systematic review of Animal Studies. The International journal of risk & safety in medicine. Retrieved from

[7] Humphreys, C., Garcia-Bournissen, F., Ito, S., & Koren, G. (2007, July). Exposure to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder medications during pregnancy. Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien. Retrieved from

[8] Ornoy, A., & Koren, G. (2021). The Effects of Drugs used for the Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) on Pregnancy Outcome and Breast-feeding: A Critical Review. Current neuropharmacology, 19(11), 1794–1804. Retrieved from

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