Women want clinicians to talk about the risk medications pose to an unborn child

Research Activities, August 2010, No. 360

When a woman is prescribed a medication that can cause birth defects, she wants her health care provider to tell her about that risk when the prescription is written, even if she does not plan to become pregnant, a new study finds. University of Pittsburgh researchers conducted four focus groups with 36 women whose ages ranged from 18 to 45. Of the 21 women taking medication for chronic conditions, some reported that their care providers directly addressed the concern that the medication could cause birth defects. However, many said their providers skirted the issue by advising them to use a backup method of birth control or by not addressing the risk at all.

Study participants all said they wanted to receive information from their care providers on the risk their medications posed to an unborn child, regardless of whether they intended to become pregnant. However, many said they often learned of the risk by reading material their pharmacies provided, researching the medication on the Internet, or discussing the medication with friends and family members.

The authors suggest that because women want their care providers to be a primary source of medical information, care providers need to provide counseling whenever they prescribe a medication that could cause birth defects. Clinicians who want to discuss these risks with patients may find the hotline operated by the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists or Web-based resources, such as ReproTox or Toxnet, useful sources of up-to-date information. This study was funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS17093).

See "Women's perspectives on counseling about risks for medication-induced birth defects," by Aimee K. Santucci, Ph.D., Melanie A. Gold, D.O., Aletha Y. Akers, M.D., M.P.H., and others in the January 2010 Birth Defects Research (Part A), 88(1), pp. 64-69.

Current as of August 2010
Internet Citation: Women want clinicians to talk about the risk medications pose to an unborn child: Research Activities, August 2010, No. 360. August 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/research-activities/aug10/0810RA7.html