Most Pregnant Moms Use Medications: New Study

What medications are safe in pregnancy?

More moms taking prescription and OTC drugs.

This week, a report in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology tells us that lots of expecting moms are using medications during pregnancy.

Over the last 30 years, prescription medication use has gone up more than 60 percent, and the use of four or more medications in the first trimester has tripled.

Researchers from the CDC and Boston University’s Sloan Epidemiology Center analyzed data on more than 30,000 women from two large studies to look at patterns of prescription and over the counter drug use during pregnancy. The goal was to paint a picture of what moms are using so that researchers know where to focus their energy with safety studies.

One class of medications more moms are taking: antidepressants. Here’s more:

  • 70-80 percent of women reported using at least one medication in the first trimester. Researchers are particularly interested in this because the first trimester is when a fetus’ fundamental organ systems form.
  • The use of prescription medication goes up with maternal age and education, and it is the highest for non-hispanic white moms.

The problem is that most drugs don’t have adequate safety data for pregnancy. Very few medications have 100% clearance and certain drugs are demonstrably unsafe for the fetus — but the the vast majority of drugs are somewhere in between, with potential effects but no solid data (for obvious reasons, it’s hard to do rigorous controlled studies of drugs in pregnancy).

On the other hand, some moms worry about the potential effects on the fetus to the point of not taking medications that might be important for their health.

We’ve come a long way from the days when we thought the placenta was a perfect filter, protecting baby from every environmental element in mom’s world. Now we know that’s not true, but moms are still somewhat in the dark about what exactly is okay to put in their bodies.

How do you feel about medications in pregnancy: did you simply call your OB to find out if something is safe? Do you look at the listings of drugs and safety information? Did you swear off all drugs completely?

Image: flickr

Baby Blues: Why taking anti-depressants during pregnancy might not be a bad idea.

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