Objective: To examine the drug prescription pattern in Danish women from 12 weeks prior to conception until 12 weeks post-partum.
Method: A drug utilization study based on The North Jutland Prescription Database. The Danish pharmacies use a computerized accounting system for all subsidized drugs and this was linked to the Danish Medical Birth Registry concerning prescription patterns for all women who had given birth in the county of North Jutland from 1991 to 1996.
Results: The analysis included 16,001 primiparous women, who had redeemed 34,834 prescriptions prior to, during and after pregnancy. During pregnancy 44.2% of the women received prescriptions for at least one drug. Users received 2.6 prescriptions on average during pregnancy: 5% of the users redeemed 24.2% of all prescriptions. The proportion of women who redeemed prescriptions for more than three different drugs was 2.7%. The majority of prescriptions were for antibiotics (28.7%), gynaecological drugs (13.3%) and anti-asthma drugs (7.6%). The post-partum prescription proportion was 34.0% and the majority of the prescriptions during this period were for penicillins (20.1%), ophthalmologicals (15.5%) and corticosteroids for dermatological use (5.7%).
Conclusion: A high proportion of the women received drugs during pregnancy. The pattern of drug use within the Anatomical Therapeutical Chemical (ATC) groups changed, i.e. the amount of broad spectrum antibiotics decreased and the proportion of prescriptions for local use increased. A small proportion of women redeemed prescriptions for more than three different drugs during pregnancy.