Risk of drug-induced congenital defects

Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2004 Nov 10;117(1):10-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2004.04.022.


Defects attributable to drug therapy represent about 1% of congenital defects of known aetiology. This means that a precautionary attitude and correct use of drugs in fertile, and especially pregnant, women is a feasible form of prevention. Drugs currently in use with proven teratogenic effect number approximately 25, but new pharmaceutical drugs are constantly in preparation. Recognition of a drug-induced teratogenic effect is a complex procedure taking into account not only experimental animal data but also experience in humans. Considering that 40% of pregnancies are not planned, it follows that any drug with known or suspected teratogenic potential must be used only under strict medical control. Also, adequate knowledge on potential teratogenicity of a drug permits modification of therapy before conception. It goes without saying that any drug should be used during pregnancy only if it is essential, and it would be prudent to use only those where adequate information is provided and prior clinical experience is available. Teratology Information Services can assist both physicians and patients when any doubt exists.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Drug-Induced / epidemiology
  • Abnormalities, Drug-Induced / etiology*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / administration & dosage
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / chemically induced*
  • Pregnancy Complications / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Risk Factors
  • Teratogens / pharmacology


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Teratogens