Wellbutrin Xl


The information provided below is for readers based in the United States of America. Readers outside of the United States of America should seek the information from local sources.

This medication is considered to have a low risk when used during pregnancy:

Although human data show a low risk of adverse effects during pregnancy, women should understand the pros and cons of continuing this medication during pregnancy.

What is bupropion?

Bupropion is an antidepressant used to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression caused by chemical imbalances in the brain.

What is bupropion used to treat?

Bupropion is used to treat symptoms of depression and anxiety as well as help with smoking cessation.

How does bupropion work?

Bupropion increases the presence of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, which can improve symptoms of depression and anxiety.

If I am taking bupropion, can it harm my baby?

Evidence from animal studies is mixed on the safety of bupropion. Bupropion does cross the placenta to reach the developing baby. Human studies in women exposed to bupropion during first trimester pregnancy have found no evidence of increased birth defects compared to rates for other antidepressants or the general population. A few studies have noted an increase in spontaneous abortions. The Bupropion Pregnancy Registry collected data from 1997 to 2008, finding the following risk of birth defects compared to the 1%-3% risk in the general population: first trimester (3.6%), second trimester (2.1%), third trimester (0%). The registry did note an increase in cardiac defects, but it was unable to say for certain that bupropion was responsible. Other studies have reported a small increase in cardiac defects in infants exposed to bupropion, but the impact of cigarette smoking and other factors could not be ruled out. Some studies found an increase in attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in infants born to mothers exposed to bupropion, but evidence is not conclusive. Cigarette exposure is also linked to ADHD.

If I am taking bupropion and become pregnant, what should I do?

Women should talk to their doctor to weigh the pros and cons of continuing or discontinuing bupropion during pregnancy. Your doctor can help individualize your treatment during pregnancy. There are other antidepressants that can be used in pregnant women, and there are other ways to help you quit smoking that avoid medication use. There is weak evidence to support the efficacy of bupropion for smoking cessation during pregnancy.

If I am taking bupropion, can I safely breastfeed my baby?

Bupropion is present in breast milk, but exposure of the baby to the medication is minimal. The manufacturer reports that only 2% of the mother’s dose reaches the nursing infant. Other than a few reports of seizures in infants exposed to bupropion through breast milk, no other reports of adverse effects have been identified. The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that the effect of bupropion exposure through breast milk on an infant is unknown, but is a concern. Bupropion therapy is not a reason to discontinue breastfeeding, but the risks and benefits of continuing therapy should be considered. Infants who are breastfed should be monitored for adverse effects such as changes in sleep, vomiting, diarrhea, and jitteriness.

If I am taking bupropion, will it be more difficult to get pregnant?

There were no impairments in fertility in animal or human studies. Some case reports and studies have noted irregularities in the menstrual cycle.

If I am taking bupropion, what should I know?

Bupropion can be passed to a baby through the placenta or breast milk. While no birth defects have been reported with bupropion exposure during pregnancy, there are a few reports of cardiac defects in infants exposed to bupropion. There have been case reports of seizures in infants who were breastfed by mothers taking bupropion. It is important to talk with your doctor about risks versus benefits of bupropion therapy during pregnancy. Other treatment options may be available.

If I am taking any medication, what should I know?

This report provides a summary of available information about the use of bupropion during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Content is from the product label unless otherwise indicated.

You may find Pregistry's expert report about depression here, reports about other mental health disorders here, and reports about the individual medications used to treat mental health disorders here.   Additional information can also be found in the resources below. 

For more information about bupropion during and after pregnancy, contact http://www.womenshealth.gov/ (800-994-9662 [TDD: 888-220-5446]) or check the following link:

Glaxo Smith Kline: Wellbutrin Prescribing Information

Read the whole report
General information

It is very common for women to worry about having a miscarriage or giving birth to a child with a birth defect while they are pregnant. Many decisions that women make about their health during pregnancy are made with these concerns in mind.

For many women these concerns are very real. As many as 1 in 5 pregnancies end in a miscarriage, and 1 in 33 babies are born with a birth defect. These rates are considered the background population risk, which means they do not take into consideration anything about the health of the mom, the medications she is taking, or the family history of the mom or the baby’s dad. A number of different things can increase these risks, including taking certain medications during pregnancy.

It is known that most medications, including over-the-counter medications, taken during pregnancy do get passed on to the baby. Fortunately, most medicines are not harmful to the baby and can be safely taken during pregnancy. But there are some that are known to be harmful to a baby’s normal development and growth, especially when they are taken during certain times of the pregnancy. Because of this, it is important to talk with your doctor or midwife about any medications you are taking, ideally before you even try to get pregnant.

If a doctor other than the one caring for your pregnancy recommends that you start a new medicine while you are pregnant, it is important that you let them know you are pregnant.

If you do need to take a new medication while pregnant, it is important to discuss the possible risks the medicine may pose on your pregnancy with your doctor or midwife. They can help you understand the benefits and the risks of taking the medicine.

Ultimately, the decision to start, stop, or change medications during pregnancy is up to you to make, along with input from your doctor or midwife. If you do take medications during pregnancy, be sure to keep track of all the medications you are taking.