Medication use for chronic health conditions by pregnant women attending an Australian maternity hospital

Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 2011 Aug;51(4):333-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1479-828X.2011.01312.x. Epub 2011 Apr 18.


Background: Most women use medications at some stage in their pregnancy. Medication nonadherence during pregnancy could be detrimental to both mother and fetus.

Aims: To study the extent and nature of the use of prescribed medications during pregnancy and factors associated with medication nonadherence.

Methods: All women≥18 years presenting for their 36th week antenatal visit at the pregnancy clinic of a maternity hospital were invited to complete an anonymous questionnaire that contained 61 items, including the Morisky scale. Factors associated with nonadherence were identified in univariate analysis; factors with P<0.1 were further analysed in a binary logistic regression model.

Results: The participants (n=819) had a mean age of 30.8±5.3 years. Most participants were born in Australia, lived with a partner, had university education, were nulliparous, carried one fetus and were nonsmokers. Of these participants, 322 (39.3%) reported a chronic health condition during pregnancy, the most common being asthma (104; 12.7%). Two hundred and seventeen (26.5%) were using prescribed medications, which included anti-anaemics (68; 8.3%), medicines for chronic airway conditions (64; 7.8%), vitamins and minerals (59; 7.2%) and anti-diabetics (43; 5.2%). Nonadherence was reported by 107 (59.1%) participants, mainly because of forgetting (79; 43.6%). Factors associated with nonadherence were having asthma (OR 0.26 (95% CI 0.095-0.72), P=0.009) and using nonprescription dietary minerals (0.30 (0.10-0.87), P=0.027).

Conclusions: Adherence to prescribed medicines during pregnancy is alarmingly low. Health professionals should be more proactive in promoting adherence and assisting women avoid potential fetal harm because of nonadherence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anemia / drug therapy*
  • Asthma / drug therapy*
  • Australia
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Maternity
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive / drug therapy
  • Medication Adherence / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nonprescription Drugs / therapeutic use
  • Pregnancy
  • Prescription Drugs / therapeutic use*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Trace Elements / therapeutic use
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use
  • Young Adult


  • Nonprescription Drugs
  • Prescription Drugs
  • Trace Elements
  • Vitamins