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Confusion Over Which Drugs Are OK To Take During Pregnancy

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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CBS Boston (con't)

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BOSTON (CBS) – Whether it’s a prescription or just something over the counter, most pregnant women know they have to be careful with any kind of drug.

Expectant mother Bianca Holmes does research online, but that often makes matters worse.

“The confusing and contradictory information leaves me kind of scared,” Holmes said.

A recent study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found women are being misled by information on multiple websites.

Cheryl Broussard of the National Center on Birth Defects added, “We found 25 active Internet websites that post such lists of safe medicines to take during pregnancy. Few of those medications that were on those lists actually had data to back up their claims to safety.”

One problem with the websites was conflicting information. One site said a popular anti-histamine was safe to take during pregnancy, but another site cautioned the same drug needed more research.

Another issue linked to pregnancy drugs is determining risk.

Dr. Siobhan Dolan, a medical adviser to the March of Dimes said, “While we wish we knew the effect of a certain medication on pregnant women, we really aren’t able to do studies where we give half the woman a certain medication and half the women a different medication to assess the safety.”

The March of Dimes points out the confusion is compounded by the fact that certain drugs are safe only during certain times of pregnancy.

Dolan explained, “Early in pregnancy, when the fetus is developing organs, you want to stay away from certain medications that might interfere with development. Later in pregnancy, as you get close to labor and delivery, you’ll want to stay away from medications that may affect blood clotting.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimates medicines taken during pregnancy account for about 10 percent of birth defects.

Experts such as Broussard say any medical information taken from the Internet should be approached with caution.

“Women are using these lists sometimes to bypass talking to a health care provider, and it’s really important that they always consult with a health care provider to find out what’s most important for them,” she said.

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