Eight out of ten pregnant women take medication, despite advice
from doctors only to take drugs when necessary, a new study
Advice from the British Medical Association and Royal
Pharmaceutical Society is that medication should only be taken if
benefits to the mother outweigh risks to the foetus.
A survey of 14,000 women asked them to report all medication
they had taken in pregnancy, including alternative remedies and
mineral and vitamin supplements.
39 per cent took painkillers in early pregnancy, mostly
paracetamol which may have a link to wheezing in early childhood in
large doses. One third took iron supplements and 22 per cent folic
acid. 23 per cent used antacids in mid to late pregnancy.
The study, for the Children in the 90s project found that only
17 per cent of women took no conventional medication during
pregnancy, and most of these used alternative remedies or food
Dr Judith Headley, who led the research, said women should seek
a health professional’s advice before self-medicating.
“It is a long time since the world was shocked by the effects
of Thalidomide, so perhaps it is time to remind women that some
drugs can be harmful.”