Prenatal vitamins and pregnancy


Vitamins and other nutrients are important for a healthy pregnancy. Women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant often receive nutritional counseling and/or a prescription for prenatal vitamins. A prenatal vitamin will not make up for poor nutrition. But it can provide a woman with vitamins and minerals they may not be getting in food.

It is very important for a woman to tell the pharmacist if she is pregnant or trying to get pregnant when filling prescriptions. It may seem that a prescription for prenatal vitamins makes it obvious that you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. But prescriptions for prenatal vitamins have been misread and filled with the wrong medicine.

  • A physician wrote a prescription for prenatal vitamins using the abbreviation "PNV." The pharmacist assumed "PNV" was Penicillin VK (penicillin V potassium), an antibiotic that is used to treat infections. When the pregnant woman picked up the medicine and brought it home, her husband noticed the mistake.
  • A physician wrote for PrimaCare One (prenatal vitamin) for a pregnant woman. The handwritten prescription was not clear. The pharmacist misread the prescription as prednisone, a steroid used to reduce swelling from arthritis, allergies, and rashes. The pregnant woman picked up the prescription and did not notice that the drug name on the bottle was prednisone. She took the prednisone, which may cause birth defects such as a cleft palate.

If your pharmacist knows you are pregnant, misreading a prescription for prenatal vitamins as another medicine will be less likely, especially one that can cause birth defects. Reading the label on the prescription bottle and the medicine information sheet that comes with your prescription can also help you identify a mix-up.

Created on December 1, 2008

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