Accutane (Isotretinion) on Birth Defects

is a form of vitamin A or of Isotrenition. It is marketed since 1982 to reduce the amount of oil released by oil glands in the skin, and helps the skin renew itself more quickly.It is used to treat severe nodular acne. It is usually given after other acne  medicines or antibiotics have been tried without successful treatment of symptoms.

However, it is well document on researches that excessive intake of Vitamin A has something to do with miscarriage and congenital anomalies. Women at any time of conception or during pregnancy, regardless of the length of exposure to this substance is in great risk of experiencing fetal abnormal development.

Congenital anomalies include:

  1. Crainofacial anomalies – like lacking of ears, abnormally smaller jaw, cleft palate, misshapen skull, small eyes (micropthalmia),
  2. Cardiac anomalies like congestive heart failure
  3. Central Nervous System anomalies – like facial and muscle paralysis, hydrocephalus, small head (microcephaly)

These are severe, life-threatening birth defects. That is why it is our role as nurses to help doctors in the assessment stage to have a thorough drug history for clients having signs of pregnancy. Accutane is strictly prohibit during pregnancy.

Nursing Considerations:

  1. Assess properly during the drug history to enable to know if the client uses Isotrenition or taking vitamin A supplements.
  2. Teach the client to refrain from using such substances during pregnancy due to harmful severe effects to the fetus and fetal development.
  3. Apply comforting measures and non-teratogenic measures for mothers experiencing acne as well as relief from oily skin caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy.
  4. Give more importance to incorporate knowledge about the harmful effects of this chemical to pregnancy and would-be mothers.

Photo credits:;

Daisy Jane Antipuesto RN MN

Currently a Nursing Local Board Examination Reviewer. Subjects handled are Pediatric, Obstetric and Psychiatric Nursing. Previous work experiences include: Clinical instructor/lecturer, clinical coordinator (Level II), caregiver instructor/lecturer, NC2 examination reviewer and staff/clinic nurse. Areas of specialization: Emergency room, Orthopedic Ward and Delivery Room. Also an IELTS passer.

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