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Woman talking with her doctor about medication use

Woman talking with her doctor about medication use

CDC’s Treating for Two Initiative is aimed at providing better information to women and their healthcare providers about medication use during pregnancy.

Medication Use in Pregnancy: A Public Health Concern

  • Medication use has surged to 9 out of 10 pregnant women. About 7 out of 10 take at least one prescription medicine. Over the last 30 years, use of prescription medicine during the first trimester of pregnancy has increased more than 60%.1
  • Many women need to take medication during pregnancy to appropriately manage their health conditions. In some cases, avoiding or stopping medication use during pregnancy may be more harmful than taking a medication.
  • At the same time, we know that taking certain medications, such as isotretinoin (also known as Accutane®), during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects or poor pregnancy outcomes.
  • Fewer than 10% of medications have enough information to determine their safety for use in pregnancy.2

View this infographic to learn more

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Treating for Two Button

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CDC Activities

CDC is partnering with other federal agencies and nonfederal partners to improve the health of women and babies by working to identify the safest treatment options for the management of common conditions before and during pregnancy. Treating for Two focuses on the following activities:

  • Better research: Treating for Two is working to expand research on medication use and pregnancy outcomes.
  • Reliable guidance: Treating for Two is building the foundation to establish a process to review evidence and develop guidance for treating conditions in pregnancy.
  • Informed decisions: Through these activities, Treating for Two will provide credible and reliable information to healthcare providers and the public to support treatment decisions in pregnancy.

Read more about the Treating for Two initiative in this
fact sheet [PDF
– 1 MB]



  1. Mitchell AA, Gilboa SM, Werler MM, Kelley KE, Louik C, Hernandez-Diaz S, National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Medication use during pregnancy, with particular focus on prescription drugs: 1976-2008. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2011;205(1):51.e1-8.
  2. Adam MP, Polifka JE, Friedman JM. Evolving knowledge of the teratogenicity of medications in human pregnancy. Am J Med Genet Part C. 2011;157:175-82.