Women’s beliefs about medication use during their pregnancy: a UK perspective

What every pregnant woman needs to know about over-the-counter drugs

Up to three quarters of pregnant women are suffering in silence from minor injuries because they fear that over-the-counter drugs could harm their babies.

Abstract

Background
Previous research has examined the number and extent of medicines taking in pregnant women but not their beliefs and risk perception surrounding their use.

Women’s beliefs about medication use during their pregnancy: a UK perspective, International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy, 30 May 2016.

Objective
To describe beliefs and risk perception associated with medicines use for the treatment of common acute conditions among UK women and explore whether this is related to actual medicines use. Settings Cross-sectional, web-based study in the UK.

Methods
Pregnant women and mothers within 1 year of giving birth were invited to participate in an online cross-sectional questionnaire-based study via a pregnancy website in the UK. Anonymous data were collected from women regarding their use of medicines (both over-the-counter and prescribed) and their beliefs regarding medicines use during pregnancy.

Main outcome measures
Pregnant women’s beliefs about medicines and their relation to pharmacological treatment of acute conditions in pregnancy.

Results
Pharmacological treatment of conditions in pregnancy ranged from 65.4 % for urinary tract infections (UTIs) to 1.1 % for sleeping problems. Almost three out of ten women avoided using some medications during pregnancy. For heartburn and UTIs, women who did not treat the condition viewed medicines in general as being overused, more harmful and less beneficial, than those who treated the condition. In general, UK pregnant women perceived medicines to be beneficial and slightly overused.

What every pregnant woman needs to know about over-the-counter drugs, The Telegraph, 3 JUNE 2016.

Conclusions
Women’s beliefs about medications impact on treatment of specific conditions in pregnancy such as heartburn and UTIs. Healthcare professionals should explore patient’s beliefs regarding medication at the first maternity care visit to promote appropriate medication use in pregnancy.

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