Risky substance exposure during pregnancy: a pilot study from Lebanese mothers

Drug Healthc Patient Saf. 2013 May 15;5:123-31. doi: 10.2147/DHPS.S44525. Print 2013.


Background: The harmful effects of medication and licit substance use during pregnancy may potentially constitute a major public health concern. Our study aims to assess risky exposure of Lebanese pregnant women to drugs, tobacco, caffeine, and alcohol, and to determine their effect on postnatal outcomes.

Methods: Women at term were addressed after delivery in five university hospitals of Beirut and Mount Lebanon between February and June 2012. A standardized questionnaire was administered to them. Moreover, medical files of both mothers and their respective newborns were checked to confirm information given by mothers, and to assess the health outcome of the babies.

Results: Among the interviewed 350 women, active and passive smoking of tobacco (cigarette or water pipe), and consumption of category C, D, and X drugs were common during pregnancy in Lebanon; they were shown to negatively affect the neonatal outcome in multivariate analyses: they significantly decreased Apgar scores and increased the risk of underweight and medical complications of babies (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: Our study demonstrated that Lebanese women were exposed during pregnancy to multiple medications and licit substances that affected the neonates' health. Our findings have implications for clinical obstetric practice and prevention programs in Lebanon. Efforts should be made to decrease exposure to harmful substances during pregnancy.

Keywords: Apgar score; alcohol; caffeine; cigarette; drugs; pregnancy; smoking; water pipe.