Teratogen update: Amphetamines

Joan D. Garey, Shari I. Lusskin, Anthony R. Scialli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Amphetamines are synthetic noncatecholamine sympathomimetic amines that act as psychostimulants. They have been prescribed for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), narcolepsy, and additional health conditions. Amphetamines are also drugs of abuse. Some experimental animal studies suggested adverse developmental effects of amphetamines, including structural malformations. These effects were most often observed in experimental animals at higher dose levels than those used for treatment or abuse and at dose levels that produce maternal toxicity. Controlled studies of amphetamine use for the treatment of ADHD and other indications did not suggest that amphetamines are likely to cause structural malformations, although there are three studies associating medication for ADHD or methamphetamine abuse with gastroschisis. We did not locate studies on the neurobehavioral effects of prenatal exposures to therapeutic amphetamine use. Amphetamine abuse was associated with offspring neurobehavioral abnormalities, but lack of adequate adjustment for confounding interferes with interpretation of the associations. Adverse effects of methamphetamine abuse during pregnancy may be due to factors associated with drug abuse rather than methamphetamine itself. The adverse effects observed in methamphetamine abuse studies may not be extrapolatable to amphetamine medication use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1171-1182
Number of pages12
JournalBirth Defects Research
Issue number15
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2020


  • amphetamines
  • birth defects
  • methamphetamine
  • neurobehavior
  • pregnancy


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