Background It is believed that 90% of pregnant females take medicine sometime during their pregnancy. To prevent harmful effects caused by use of medication during pregnancy accessible evidence-based information is important, but lacking.
Purpose To explore the use of medication, vitamins and natural products during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy along with satisfaction and usage of information sources among pregnant females. The practice of midwives and physicians to obtain and provide information about the use of medication and natural products during pregnancy was also examined.
Material and methods The study was conducted at the university hospital in Iceland in 2017. A questionnaire was submitted to pregnant females in the form of an interview following a 20 weeks’ pregnancy ultrasound appointment. An online questionnaire was sent via e-mail to all members of the Icelandic medical association and the Icelandic midwives’ association.
Results About 90% of the 213 participants used medication once or more often during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. About 80% of the medicines belonged to safety classes A and B, but 20% to classes C and D. Ninety-seven per cent of the participants used vitamins, with folic acid and vitamin D being the most common. Only 14% of the participants did not use folic acid and low usage was associated with living in rural areas (p=0.03) and young age (p=0.019). Natural products were used by 14% of the participants.
The majority of the pregnant females (81%) were satisfied with the information they received when a drug was prescribed to them. Their most commonly used sources of information were the internet (51%) and midwives (44%).
Approximately 40% (82) of midwives and physicians found access to information regarding medication use during pregnancy insufficient and 50% found it difficult to interpret the information available. About 50% of the participants felt qualified to give advice to pregnant females about medication use, but only 24% about the use of natural products.
Conclusion The use of medication and supplements during pregnancy is common. Most medicines being used are safe. The majority take folic acid and vitamin D. There is however an opportunity to make improvements regarding information sources for professionals.
No conflict of interest
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