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Health Agencies Update
October 27, 2004

Pregnancy and Medication

JAMA. 2004;292(16):1946. doi:10.1001/jama.292.16.1946-b

Substantial numbers of pregnant women are prescribed drugs that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies as having no human evidence of safety for use during pregnancy or that evidence has shown can harm a developing fetus, according to a study by investigators at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2004;191:398-407).

The researchers reviewed data focusing on prescription drug use by 152 531 pregnant women from 1996 through 2000. Of these women, 64% were prescribed a medication other than a vitamin or mineral supplement during their pregnancy. Of these, almost 40% received a drug for which human safety during pregnancy has not been established. Nearly 5% were prescribed drugs associated with definite fetal risks in human or animal studies or based on human experience—a risk that outweighs any possible benefit.