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Researchers report widespread use of medications among pregnant women
Date:4/25/2011

(Boston) Researchers from Boston University's Slone Epidemiology Center, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Harvard School of Public Health, have reported widespread and increasing medication use among pregnant women. The study, which currently appears online in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, also found that medication use varied by socioeconomic status, maternal age, race/ethnicity and state of residence.

Although a number of antenatal medication exposures are known to cause birth defects, there is insufficient information on the risks and safety for the vast majority of medications, whether they are obtained by prescription or over-the-counter (OTC). As a result, pregnant women may unknowingly take a medication that poses risk to their fetus; on the other hand, anxiety about the potential harmful effects to the fetus may discourage women from adhering to beneficial treatments.

The findings came from data collected by the Slone Epidemiology Center's Birth Defects Study (1976-2008) and the CDC's National Birth Defects Prevention Study (1997-2003), which together interviewed more than 30,000 women about their medication use during pregnancy. The results included information not only on use of prescription drugs but also OTC medications, which are more commonly used and are not typically recorded in electronic medical/insurance records.

The following is an outline of the study's findings:

  1. During the first trimester of pregnancy
    • 70-80 percent of women reported taking at least one medication; and
    • By 2008, about 50 percent of women reported taking at least one prescription medication.

  2. Over the last 30 years
    • First trimester use of prescription medications increased by more than 60 percent;
    • Use of 4 or more medications during the first trimester tripled; and
    • Antidepressant use during the first tr
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Contact: Gina DiGravio
gina.digravio@bmc.org
617-638-8480
Boston University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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