The study, which was conducted by researchers at Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center, Harvard’s School of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reviewed interview responses gathered between 1976 and 2008.
Through their analysis of the data, researchers found that 70 to 80 percent of women reported taking one or more medications in the first three months of pregnancy. Approximately 50 percent of women reported taking one or more prescription medications in the early months of pregnancy.
It was found that, over the last 30 years, first trimester use of prescription drugs was up in excess of 60 percent.
The first trimester is the time in pregnancy when the baby is most vulnerable to birth defects. This presents a problem for users of medications. Despite our apparent confidence in the use of many over the counter and prescription drugs, very few medications have actually been tested on pregnant women. The obvious risk is that the impact of most medications, on a fetus, is unknown.
Drugs are ranked for safety based on an identification scale of A, B, C, D and X.
According to Dr. Daniel Roshan, assistant professor of ob-gyn at New York University School of Medicine,
“The only ‘A’ drugs are prenatal vitamins and thyroid medication.” ‘B’ drugs have been tested on animals with no ill effects but have not been tested on humans, ‘C’ drugs have caused problems in animal studies, ‘D’ drugs are known to have the potential to cause birth defects in humans, and ‘X’ drugs should never be taken by anybody, ever.”
On the flip side of this conundrum, many women are hesitant to take prescription medications that they vitally need, because they fear for the safety of their unborn child.
The risks need to be weighed in each individual case. Women should make their decisions to take or not take medications, with the insight and advice of a doctor they trust. – Jen R, Staff Writer
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