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Pregnancy: beware of drugs,
even self-medication products

Many pregnant women self-medicate, but few are aware of the dangers some ordinary drugs can pose to the unborn baby.

A number of medicinal products can cause sometimes severe adverse effects, especially in pregnant women and their unborn babies.

According to the findings of a study carried out by the Toulouse regional pharmacovigilance centre involving 166 pregnant women interviewed, 15% stated they had taken a self-medication product (without seeking medical advice) in the week prior to the study. 27% stated they regularly took herbal medicines, 27% vitamins, and 4% dietary supplements.

More than 40% were unaware of the risks posed to their unborn baby by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin and ibuprofen, used as painkillers or to reduce temperature, or of the risks associated with the tranquillizer bromazepam. These results confirm the findings of a study carried out in 2006 in which two thirds of the pregnant women questioned were unaware that ibuprofen was a NSAID and posed a risk to the unborn baby.

During pregnancy, medical advice should be sought before taking any medicinal product and health professionals need to be vigilant and well trained.

©Prescrire December 2008

Source: "Buprénorphine et grossesse" Rev Prescrire 2008; 28 (301) 832.

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