Medication use among pregnant women is widespread and increasing, according to a recent study from the Boston University School of Public Health in Boston.
Medication use among pregnant women is widespread and increasing, according to a recent study from the Boston University School of Public Health in Boston. The study, which was done in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Harvard School of Public Health, also found that medication use varied by socioeconomic status, maternal age, race/ethnicity, and state of residence.
Among the key findings:
1. During the first trimester of pregnancy:
2. Over the last 30 years:
3. Influence of socioeconomic factors:
Findings for the study were obtained from interviews with more than 30,000 women participating in the Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center’s Birth Defects Study (1976 to 2008), and the CDC’s National Birth Defects Prevention Study (1997 to 2003). Results included information regarding both prescription and OTC drug use.
“Not only is it critical to identify how many OTC and prescription medications are taken by pregnant women and what those specific medications are, but it is also important to know how the use of medications changes over time,” said Allen A. Mitchell, MD, director of Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center and a professor of epidemiology.
The researchers noted that a number of antenatal medication exposures are known causes of birth defects. However, there is insufficient information about the risks and safety for the vast majority of OTC and prescription medications. This could lead pregnant women to unknowingly take medications that pose a risk to their fetuses. Conversely, anxiety about the potential harm of OTC or prescription medications may discourage pregnant women from adhering to beneficial treatments.