TUESDAY, Sept. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Growing numbers of pregnant women are on medicines to treat high blood pressure, new research indicates.
"The reasons for the increase are not entirely clear," said study author Dr. Brian Bateman, an assistant professor of anesthesia at Harvard Medical School.
While it's important to manage high blood pressure during pregnancy, certain drugs are preferred due to their safety profile. In the study, Bateman found that many women were not on those drugs.
"We need to do more research to figure out which medicines are the best for insuring a good pregnancy outcome for both mother and baby," he said.
The findings are published in the October issue of Hypertension.
Bateman and his colleagues examined Medicaid claims from 2000 to 2007, looking for the records of women who had completed pregnancies. Of the more than 1 million women, nearly 48,500 (4.4 percent) took blood pressure medicines during pregnancy. From the start of the study to the end, the proportion of women taking the drugs increased from 3.5 percent to 4.9 percent.
Some were on the medicines before getting pregnant, Bateman said. Others developed high blood pressure during pregnancy and were then put on the drugs.
The range of blood pressure medicines varied greatly, Bateman found. Often, women were on medicines other than methyldopa (Aldomet) or labetalol (Normodyne, Trandate), two drugs that are typically recommended during pregnancies.
Other medicines, including ACE inhibitors, should not be used during pregnancy, according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, due to possible hazards to the developing fetus.
For all of the blood pressure medicines, 1.9 percent of the woman took them during the first trimester, 1.7 percent during the second trimester and 3.2 percent during the third trimester. For ACE inhibitors,
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