This sheet is about exposure to desipramine in pregnancy and while breastfeeding. This information should not take the place of medical care and advice from your healthcare provider.
What is desipramine?
Desipramine is a prescription medication that has been used to treat depression. It has also been used to treat pain caused by the nervous system (neurogenic pain), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Desipramine belongs to a class of antidepressants known as tricyclic antidepressants. Two brand names for desipramine are Norpramin® and Pertofrane®.
Sometimes when people find out they are pregnant, they think about changing how they take their medication, or stopping their medication altogether. However, it is important to talk with your healthcare providers before making any changes to how you take this medication. Your healthcare providers can talk with you about the benefits of treating your condition and the risks of untreated illness during pregnancy.
I take desipramine. Can it make it harder for me to get pregnant?
Studies have not been done to see if desipramine could make it harder to get pregnant.
Should my levels of desipramine be monitored during pregnancy?
Pregnancy might affect how some people break down this medication. Some people may need to have their medication doses changed during pregnancy. Your healthcare provider can discuss testing your blood and monitoring your symptoms to help determine if you need to adjust your medication dose to keep this medication working for you.
Does taking desipramine increase the chance of miscarriage?
Miscarriage can occur in any pregnancy. Studies have not been done to see if desipramine could increase the chance of miscarriage.
Does taking desipramine increase the chance of birth defects?
Every pregnancy starts out with a 3-5% chance of having a birth defect. This is called the background risk. Desipramine has not been well studied in pregnancy. However, the tricyclic antidepressant imipramine turns into desipramine in the body. There are studies on imipramine use during pregnancy that did not find an increased chance for birth defects when imipramine was used in the first trimester. Based on this information, it is unlikely that using desipramine would increase the chance of birth defects.
MotherToBaby has a fact sheet on imipramine, which can be found at: https://mothertobaby.org/fact-sheets/imipramine/.
Does taking desipramine in pregnancy increase the chance of other pregnancy related problems?
Desipramine has not been well studied in pregnancy. However, when depression is left untreated during pregnancy, there could be an increase in pregnancy complications. If you are taking desipramine for depression, please see our fact sheet on depression at https://mothertobaby.org/fact-sheets/depression-pregnancy/.
I need to take desipramine throughout my entire pregnancy. Will it cause withdrawal symptoms in my baby?
It is possible that the use of desipramine during pregnancy can cause temporary symptoms in newborns soon after birth. These symptoms are sometimes referred to as withdrawal. However, this has not been well studied. Babies exposed to desipramine near delivery can be monitored for symptoms such as irritability, jitteriness, tremors, fast heart rate, and/or fast breathing. If a baby develops withdrawal symptoms, in most cases the symptoms can be treated and will go away without long term health effects.
Does taking desipramine in pregnancy affect future behavior or learning for the child?
It is not known if desipramine increases the chance for behavior or learning issues.
Breastfeeding while taking desipramine:
Amounts of desipramine in breast milk are low. Case reports on four infants who were exposed to desipramine through breastmilk could not detect the medication in the baby’s blood. No harmful effects have been reported for one nursing infant who was followed up to three years of age. Long-term studies on infants exposed to desipramine in breast milk have not been done. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about all of your breastfeeding questions.
If a male takes desipramine, could it affect fertility (ability to get partner pregnant) or increase the chance of birth defects?
Some reports have suggested that desipramine and other tricyclic antidepressants might reduce a male’s sex drive or ability to have sex (causing erectile and ejaculatory dysfunction), which could make it harder to conceive a pregnancy. In general, exposures that fathers or sperm donors have are unlikely to increase the risks to a pregnancy. For more information, please see the MotherToBaby fact sheet Paternal Exposures at https://mothertobaby.org/fact-sheets/paternal-exposures-pregnancy/.
Please click here for references.
National Pregnancy Registry for Psychiatric Medications: There is a pregnancy registry for women who take psychiatric medications, such as desipramine. For more information you can look at their website: https://womensmentalhealth.org/research/pregnancyregistry/.
OTIS/MotherToBaby encourages inclusive and person-centered language. While our name still contains a reference to mothers, we are updating our resources with more inclusive terms. Use of the term mother or maternal refers to a person who is pregnant. Use of the term father or paternal refers to a person who contributes sperm.