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Medication use in pregnancy: a cross-sectional, multinational web-based study

Abstract

Objectives Intercountry comparability between studies on medication use in pregnancy is difficult due to dissimilarities in study design and methodology. This study aimed to examine patterns and factors associated with medications use in pregnancy from a multinational perspective, with emphasis on type of medication utilised and indication for use.

Design Cross-sectional, web-based study performed within the period from 1 October 2011 to 29 February 2012. Uniform collection of drug utilisation data was performed via an anonymous online questionnaire.

Setting Multinational study in Europe (Western, Northern and Eastern), North and South America and Australia.

Participants Pregnant women and new mothers with children less than 1 year of age.

Primary and secondary outcome measures Prevalence of and factors associated with medication use for acute/short-term illnesses, chronic/long-term disorders and over-the-counter (OTC) medication use.

Results The study population included 9459 women, of which 81.2% reported use of at least one medication (prescribed or OTC) during pregnancy. Overall, OTC medication use occurred in 66.9% of the pregnancies, whereas 68.4% and 17% of women reported use of at least one medication for treatment of acute/short-term illnesses and chronic/long-term disorders, respectively. The extent of self-reported medicated illnesses and types of medication used by indication varied across regions, especially in relation to urinary tract infections, depression or OTC nasal sprays. Women with higher age or lower educational level, housewives or women with an unplanned pregnancy were those most often reporting use of medication for chronic/long-term disorders. Immigrant women in Western (adjusted OR (aOR): 0.55, 95% CI 0.34 to 0.87) and Northern Europe (aOR: 0.50, 95% CI 0.31 to 0.83) were less likely to report use of medication for chronic/long-term disorders during pregnancy than non-immigrants.

Conclusions In this study, the majority of women in Europe, North America, South America and Australia used at least one medication during pregnancy. There was a substantial inter-region variability in the types of medication used.

  • Maternal medicine < OBSTETRICS
  • Therapeutics
  • Public Health

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 3.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

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