Purpose: To investigate the use of herbal drugs by pregnant women.
Methods: We interviewed 400 postpartum women at Ullevål University Hospital in Oslo, Norway about the use of herbal drugs, within 3 days after giving birth by using a structured questionnaire in the period from February to June 2001.
Results: We found that 36% of the pregnant women had used herbal drugs during pregnancy with an average of 1.7 products per woman. The proportion of women using herbal drugs increased throughout the first, second and third pregnancy trimester. The most commonly used herbs were echinacea, iron-rich herbs, ginger, chamomile and cranberry. Among the women having used herbal drugs in pregnancy, 39% had used herbal drugs that were considered possibly harmful or herbs where information about safety in pregnancy was missing. Herbal galactagogues had been used by 43% of the women who had breastfed a prior child during their breast-feeding period. Use of herbal drugs in pregnancy had most commonly been recommended by family or friends.
Conclusion: The widespread use of herbal drugs during pregnancy indicates an increased need for documentation about the safety of herbal drugs in pregnancy. To meet the needs of pregnant women, it is necessary for health care personnel to have knowledge about herbal drugs during pregnancy.
Copyright 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.