Medication use during pregnancy, with particular focus on prescription drugs: 1976-2008

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2011 Jul;205(1):51.e1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2011.02.029. Epub 2011 Apr 22.


Objective: The objective of the study was to provide information on overall medication use throughout pregnancy, with particular focus on the first trimester and specific prescription medications.

Study design: The study design included the Slone Epidemiology Center Birth Defects Study, 1976-2008, and the National Birth Defects Prevention Study, 1997-2003, which together interviewed more than 30,000 women about their antenatal medication use.

Results: Over the last 3 decades, first-trimester use of prescription medication increased by more than 60%, and the use of 4 or more medications more than tripled. By 2008, approximately 50% of women reported taking at least 1 medication. Use of some specific medications markedly decreased or increased. Prescription medication use increased with maternal age and education, was highest for non-Hispanic whites, and varied by state.

Conclusion: These data reflect the widespread and growing use of medications by pregnant women and reinforce the need to study their respective fetal risks and safety.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Congenital Abnormalities / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Nonprescription Drugs / administration & dosage*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First
  • Prescription Drugs / administration & dosage*
  • Young Adult


  • Nonprescription Drugs
  • Prescription Drugs