Montreal, November 17, 2009 More than six percent of expectant mothers in Quebec consume prescription drugs that are known to be harmful to their fetuses, according to a Universit de Montral investigation published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Half these women will voluntarily terminate their pregnancy fearing congenital malformations, which means the abortion rate among these women is 11 percent higher than in the rest of the population.
"I never expected such results and I was extremely surprised," says senior author Anick Brard, a professor at the Universit de Montral's Faculty of Pharmacy and director of the Research Unit on Medications and Pregnancy of the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Center.
Dr. Brard examined data from the Quebec Pregnancy Registry on 109,344 women, aged 15 to 45, who were pregnant between 1998 and 2002. Her research team found that 6,871 pregnant women consumed one of 11 prescription drugs that are known to be harmful to fetuses through the first, second or third trimester. Of those women, 3,229 aborted; 6 percent had a miscarriage; and 8.2 percent gave birth to a child with major congenital malformations.
By comparison, the rate of fetal malformations in the general population in the province of Quebec is approximately seven percent. "If there are 80,000 births in Quebec per year, a one percent difference translates into an additional 800 children born with serious malformations," says Brard, who is currently a visiting professor at the Universit Claude Bernard in Lyon, France. "At the very best, those babies will die. In the worst case, they'll live with serious physical or psychological health problems their entire lives."
The study also examined the use of prescription drugs that are known to be feto-toxic or increase in-utero problems or premature births. The researchers found that 11,400 prescriptions for dangerous medicines such as isotretinoin (for the
|Contact: Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins|
University of Montreal