by: Alicia Martin
July 28, 2012
About two-thirds of women in the United States take one or more prescription medications during pregnancy, many of which the potential effects on a fetus are unclear. In developed countries, birth defects are the leading cause of infant mortality. The complex melange of factors that contribute to a healthy pregnancy make it very difficult to specifically identify causal factors, but it is widely agreed upon that taking medication during pregnancy can result in fetal damage.
Use of Medication During Pregnancy a Dangerous Decision
In 1979, the United States Food and Drug Administration introduced a system to classify pharmaceuticals based on fetal risks. The two highest categories of risk in this system are ‘Category X,’ where fetal abnormalities could occur, and/or there is positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data, and the risks involved in the use of medication during pregnancy clearly outweigh potential benefits. Then there is ‘Category D,’ where it is claimed that the use of the drug will provide more benefits than risks, despite positive evidence of human fetal risk based on adverse reaction data from investigational or marketing experience or studies in humans. Needless to say, pharmaceutical drugs should be avoided, especially while pregnant.
An analysis of almost 13,000 doctor visits made by women of childbearing age between 1998-2000 showed that one out of every thirteen was on a class D or X medication, and given the steep and steady increase in prescriptions for psychotropic drugs in the past decades, it’s likely that this number is also increasing.
In addition to these medications which are known to pose a risk, the data on many other prescription drugs is limited at best. According to Dr. Cheryl Broussard, Epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most medications have not been adequately evaluated for use during pregnancy, and one study showed that more than 90% of medications approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from 1980 to 2000 had insufficient data to determine the risk in human pregnancy.