Prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medicine use in a rural, obstetric population

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2003 Apr;188(4):1039-45. doi: 10.1067/mob.2003.223.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to identify the medications that are consumed by a rural obstetric population during pregnancy.

Study design: Over a period of 26 months, pregnant women were interviewed about medication use. Interviews on subsequent visits provided a longitudinal study of medication usage and discontinuation. Trend differences were analyzed according to the number of medications, the trimester of use, and insurance status.

Results: Five hundred seventy-eight participants had 2086 interviews. The compilation of the interviews showed that 95.8% of the participants took prescription medications, 92.6% of the participants self-medicated with over-the-counter medications, and 45.2% of the participants used herbal medications. Over time, consumption of over-the-counter medications exceeded prescription medication use. Fifteen percent of the pregnant women took ibuprofen at some point during the pregnancy (5.7% in the third trimester). Eight percent of the women were noncompliant and 20% incompletely compliant with prenatal vitamin and mineral formulations.

Conclusion: Medication use was substantial in this population. Medications (eg, ibuprofen) that are contraindicated in pregnancy were used at unexpectedly high rates. Of the three medication classes, over-the-counter medications were used most frequently.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Herbal Medicine / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Ibuprofen / therapeutic use
  • Minerals / therapeutic use
  • Nonprescription Drugs / therapeutic use*
  • Patient Compliance
  • Pregnancy*
  • Prenatal Care
  • Rural Population* / statistics & numerical data*
  • Self Medication
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use


  • Minerals
  • Nonprescription Drugs
  • Vitamins
  • Ibuprofen