First Exposure


Information last updated: November 2021

The baseline risk of major birth defects in Canada is 3-5%. This means that 3-5 out of 100 babies born in the general population in Canada will be born with a major birth defect. There are also baseline risks for miscarriages (15-25 out of 100 pregnancies), prematurity and other outcomes. The information provided will summarize if taking this drug is likely to change these risks. 

Summary: Approximately 4000 pregnancies with exposure to methylphenidate in the first trimester of pregnancy were included in published studies. Based on this, it is not expected that taking methylphenidate in pregnancy will increase the risk of babies being born with major birth defects beyond the baseline risk. There have been some reports of higher rates of adverse pregnancy outcomes when pregnancies exposed to methylphenidate or ADHD stimulant medications, were compared to unexposed pregnancies. However, these were not found consistently and if there are increases in the risks, they are anticipated to be small. To see more details please click on the tabs below. Any decisions concerning methylphenidate treatment during pregnancy should be discussed with a healthcare provider, weighing the benefits of treatment against any possible risks.  

Please consult with your health care provider if you are considering stopping or making any changes to your regular medications. 

This information about methylphenidate is of a general nature and about medical use and does not replace the medical care and advice of your healthcare provider. For questions on dose, timing, side effects, interactions, etc. please consult your healthcare provider. Additionally, please read the patient insert provided with your medication. If you are using methylphenidate or other drugs or medications for non-medical reasons or beyond what was recommended by a healthcare provider, please see Harm Reduction section. In case of emergency, please go to the emergency room or call 911. 

Although participants in the studies referenced below may have used methylphenidate in various combinations, the studies usually do not provide detailed information on drug combinations.  This makes it challenging to comment on the safety of using this medication in combination with others during pregnancy or lactation. 


First Exposure does not offer health care treatment. If you have an urgent question about your pregnancy or your baby’s health, you should contact your health care provider directly. If you don’t have a health care provider and you live in Ontario, you have a variety of health care options. In the case of an emergency, visit a hospital emergency room or call 911.