Pregnancy outcome following prenatal exposure to triptan medications: a meta-analysis

Headache. 2015 Apr;55(4):490-501. doi: 10.1111/head.12500. Epub 2015 Feb 3.


Background: Migraine is a common disorder among women of childbearing age. Triptan medications are effective and commonly used to treat migraines in pregnancy. However, the reproductive safety of this group of drugs has not yet been confirmed. The aim of this study was to determine the reproductive safety of triptan medications by performing a literature review and a meta-analysis.

Methods: Available publications regarding pregnancy outcomes following prenatal exposure to triptans from 1991 to 2013 were identified and reviewed according to the inclusion criteria. A random-effects meta-analysis model was implemented to combine the available pregnancy outcome data for the exposed and comparison groups.

Results: One case-control study and 5 cohort studies met the inclusion criteria. The included studies provided information on duration of gestation, major congenital malformations, and spontaneous abortions of infants following prenatal triptan exposure. The 6 studies included 4208 infants of women who used sumatriptan or other triptan medications, and 1,466,994 children of women who did not use triptans during pregnancy. No significant increases in rates for major congenital malformations (MCMs), prematurity, or spontaneous abortions were found when comparing the triptan-exposed group to the migraine - no triptans control group (odds ratio [OR] = 0.84 [0.61-1.16]; OR = 0.90 [0.35-2.30]; OR = 1.27 [0.58-2.79], respectively). There were no increased rate of MCMs (OR = 1.18 [0.97-1.44]) or prematurity (OR = 1.16 (0.67-1.99) when the triptan-exposed group was compared with the healthy controls; however, there was a significant increase in the rates of spontaneous abortions (OR = 3.54 [2.24-5.59]). When the migraine no-triptan group was compared with healthy controls, a significant increase in the rates of MCMs was found (OR = 1.41 [1.11-1.80]).

Conclusion: The use of triptans during pregnancy does not appear to increase the rates for MCMs or prematurity. The increased rates of spontaneous abortions in the triptan-exposed group and the increased rates of MCM in the migraine no-triptan group require further research.

Keywords: major congenital malformations; meta-analysis; migraine; pregnancy outcome; triptans.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy
  • Migraine Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy Outcome / epidemiology*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / chemically induced
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / diagnosis
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / epidemiology*
  • Tryptamines / adverse effects
  • Tryptamines / therapeutic use*


  • Tryptamines