Dactinomycin in pregnancy and breastfeeding


Risk Factor: CM
Class: Antineoplastics

Contents of this page:
Fetal Risk Summary
Breast Feeding Summary

Fetal Risk Summary

Dactinomycin is an antimitotic antineoplastic agent. Reproduction studies in the rat, rabbit, and hamster at IV doses three to seven times the maximum recommended human dose have shown embryo and fetal toxicity and teratogenic effects (1).

Normal pregnancies have followed the use of this drug prior to conception (2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 and 10). Women, however, were less likely to have a live birth following treatment with this drug than with other antineoplastics (6).

Eight women who were treated with dactinomycin in childhood or adolescence subsequently produced 20 liveborn offspring, 3 (15%) of which had congenital anomalies (11). This rate was the highest among 14 antineoplastic agents studied. Another report, however, observed no major congenital malformations in 52 offspring born to 11 men and 25 women who had been treated with dactinomycin during childhood or adolescence, suggesting that the results of the initial study occurred by chance (12).

Reports on the use of dactinomycin in six pregnancies have been located (13,14,15,16,17 and 18). In these cases, dactinomycin was administered during the 2nd and 3rd trimesters and apparently normal infants were delivered. The infant from one of the pregnancies was continuing to do well 4 years after birth (15). Two of the other pregnancies (16,17) are discussed in more detail in the monograph for cyclophosphamide (see Cyclophosphamide).

Data from one review indicated that 40% of the infants exposed to anticancer drugs were of low birth weight (13). This finding was not related to the timing of exposure. Long-term studies of growth and mental development in offspring exposed to dactinomycin during the 2nd trimester, the period of neuroblast multiplication, have not been conducted (19).

The long-term effects of combination chemotherapy on menstrual and reproductive function have been described in a 1988 report (20). Thirty-two of the 40 women treated for malignant ovarian germ cell tumors received dactinomycin. The results of this study are discussed in the monograph for cyclophosphamide (see Cyclophosphamide).

Occupational exposure of the mother to antineoplastic agents during pregnancy may present a risk to the fetus. A position statement from the National Study Commission on Cytotoxic Exposure and a research article involving some antineoplastic agents are presented in the monograph for cyclophosphamide (see Cyclophosphamide).

Breast Feeding Summary

No reports describing the use of dactinomycin during human lactation or measuring the amount, if any, of the drug excreted into milk have been located. Although its relatively high molecular weight (about 1255) should impede the transfer into milk, women receiving this drug should not breast-feed because of the potential risk of severe adverse reactions in the nursing infant.



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