Key Findings About Medicine and Pregnancy

CDC and its partners conduct important research on the effects of medications during pregnancy. Listed below are key findings from some of these studies and a list of articles that might be of interest. Click on the links to learn more about each study.

Use of the Antidepressant Venlafaxine During Early Pregnancy May Be Linked to Specific Birth Defects
A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) clarified previous research findings on the relationship between use of antidepressants during early pregnancy and risk for specific birth defects.
(Published: August 5, 2020)

Pregnant Women Report Taking Medicines for Anxiety and Other Mental Health Conditions
Two studies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that a small number of women reported taking benzodiazepines or atypical antipsychotic medicines during pregnancy.
(Published: February 3, 2020)

Use of ADHD Medicine is Increasing among Pregnant Women
A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that an increasing number of pregnant women are taking attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medicine.

A Growing Number of Reproductive-Aged Women are Filling Prescriptions for ADHD Medicine
A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that privately-insured U.S. women aged 15-44 who filled a prescription for a medicine to treat ADHD increased nearly 350% between 2003 and 2015.

Antibiotic Treatments for Urinary Tract Infections Are Commonly Prescribed To Pregnant Women
A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that about 4 in 10 women with UTIs during early pregnancy filled a prescription for nitrofurantoin or trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole.

Women and Healthcare Providers “Play it Safe” with Medicine Use During Pregnancy
A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with the March of Dimes and RTI International, found that women want to be actively engaged in making decisions about the medicines they take during pregnancy. However, there are not enough informational materials to tell women and their providers what medicines are safe to use during pregnancy.

Use of Pain Medicine During Early Pregnancy May Be Related To Birth Defects
A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that women who took NSAIDs and opioid pain medicines during early pregnancy were more likely to have babies affected with certain birth defects compared with women who took acetaminophen.

Antidepressant Prescription Claims among Reproductive-aged Women
CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published a new study looking at how often women aged 15-44 years filled a prescription for an antidepressant medication.

Assessing YouTube Videos for Content on Medication Use during Pregnancy
The journal Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety published a new study looking at the content of YouTube videos.

A Closer Look at the Link Between Specific SSRIs and Birth Defects
New CDC study findings refute some earlier reported links but confirm other links observed between birth defects and some selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are medications used to treat depression and other mental health conditions.

Opioid Use among Women Aged 15-44
CDC researchers found that during 2008–2012, on average, 28% of women aged 15-44 years with private health insurance and 39% of women with Medicaid filled a prescription written by a healthcare provider for an opioid medication.

Opioid use and neural tube defects
The journal Obstetrics and Gynecology has published a new study that looked at the use of opioids during pregnancy and their relationship to having a pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect (NTD).

Prescription Medication Use among Women in the United States, 1999-2006
The Maternal and Child Health Journal published a CDC study where researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to better understand the frequency of prescription medication use among pregnant women and non-pregnant women between 15-44 years of age.

Antihistamines and Birth Defects
In a CDC study, researchers reviewed more than 50 published scientific articles to see if there was a risk of birth defects from using antihistamines, like allergy medication, during pregnancy.

How much do we know about the most common medicines used during pregnancy?
In a new CDC study, researchers identified the medicines most commonly used by women during the first trimester (first three months) of pregnancy. They also looked at the gaps in information about the safety or risk of using these medicines during pregnancy.

Safe lists for medications in pregnancy- inadequate evidence base and inconsistent guidance from web-based information, 2011
A brief report looked at information and guidance on the internet about the safety of using medications during pregnancy.

Use of topiramate in pregnancy and risk of oral clefts
A new study looked at the risk of oral clefts among babies born to mothers who reported use of topiramate during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Maternal Treatment with Opioid Analgesics and Risk for Birth Defects
Opioid analgesics are prescription medications that commonly are used to treat severe pain. Two common opioid medications are codeine and oxycodone. Lower doses of opioids also might be included in some cough medicines. The effects of opioids on a pregnant woman and her unborn baby are not well understood.

Influencing Clinical Practice Regarding the Use of Antiepileptic Medications During Pregnancy
An introductory editorial article co-written by a CDC author is also in the special issue of this journal. This article gives a brief historical overview of the study of birth defects. It also highlights emerging topics that are discussed in the special issue.

Page last reviewed: August 6, 2020