Objective: To describe the use of drugs among Italian women during pregnancy and to compare it with other reports in Italy from the last 10 years.
Methods: A random sample of women who delivered in 1995-1996 were interviewed with regard to the care they received during pregnancy, delivery and the post-natal period. Information on antenatal care included maternal reports on the use of drugs during pregnancy.
Results: Of the 9004 women interviewed, 75% took at least one drug during pregnancy. Users took a median number of two drugs. Iron (51%) and vitamins (25%) dominate prescriptions throughout pregnancy. Fifteen percent of women reported treatment for threatened abortion and 27% for risk of pre-term delivery. The data do not differ from the drug exposure profile during pregnancy reported in other Italian studies. Logistic regression analysis of drug use (excluding haematologicals and nutritionals) shows an increased risk of usage for older women, the better educated, for those who reported health problems and those who had compulsory bed rest and/or hospitalisation during pregnancy.
Conclusion: Seventy-five percent of the women reported use of at least one drug during pregnancy. Haematological and nutritional drugs are over prescribed. Although hormones have been clearly proven to be ineffective in preventing threatened abortion, the study shows an almost unchanged and out of date prescription pattern of progestational drugs. In order to avoid unnecessary exposure to potential risk, maternity care procedures should be reviewed and strictly related to an "evidence-based" approach.