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Researchers working to answer questions about medications use during pregnancy.

Researchers working to answer questions about medications use during pregnancy.

CDC is committed to working with its partners and the public to build a comprehensive approach to understanding and communicating the risks associated with the use of medications during pregnancy.

Treating for Two: Safer Medication Use in Pregnancy Initiative: CDC and partners are leading an initiative to improve the availability and quality of data to help inform clinical management decisions for women who are pregnant or could become pregnant and their healthcare providers.  Read more about the Treating for Two initiative in this fact sheet. The initiative approach involves the following:

  • Expand research: CDC funds the Centers for Birth Defects Research and Prevention (CBDRP), which collaborate on large studies such as the National Birth Defects Prevention Study (births 1997-2011) and the Birth Defects Study To Evaluate Pregnancy exposureS (to start in 2014). Through the CBDRP, we have been building the infrastructure for birth defects research for more than a decade. These studies work to identify risk factors for birth defects and to answer questions about medications taken during pregnancy.
  • Evaluate evidence: CDC proposes an expert review process to compare the available treatment options for common health conditions (e.g., depression, asthma) to identify the safer option(s) for use during pregnancy.
  • Educate: Summary guidance from the expert review would provide credible and reliable information to assist women and their healthcare providers in making informed treatment decisions during pregnancy. CDC is also working with the March of Dimes to conduct formative research to better understand knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and practices related to medication use in pregnancy, to inform the development of educational materials for women and healthcare providers.

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Technical expertise: CDC works with staff from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other professionals to better understand the effects of medication use during pregnancy and identify ways to prevent harmful effects of medication use during pregnancy. CDC also acts in an advisory role for several different organizations, including providing technical expertise to many pregnancy registries monitoring specific medications, such as epilepsy medications.

CDC provides technical assistance for several different organizations working to assess the safety or risk of specific medications.