Although most pregnant women use at least one medication during their pregnancy, few data are available to assess how safe most drugs are for expectant mothers and their fetuses. But a new collaborative effort led by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and a data-gathering project of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may begin to fill the gaps.
Despite the frequency of medication use during pregnancy, gestating women are generally excluded from clinical trials for ethical reasons. Animal studies may help identify some obvious effects of drug use during pregnancy, but they cannot always predict the effects in humans and may miss more subtle problems (Lagoy CT et al. J Womens Health [Larchmt]. 2005;14:104-109). This has led scientists to rely on the analysis of case studies and epidemiological data—often with limited numbers of patients—to try to assess the risks of various medications during pregnancy.
Kuehn BM. Studies Probe Medication Use in Pregnancy. JAMA. 2010;303(7):601. doi:10.1001/jama.303.7.601