Women and Healthcare Providers “Play it Safe” with Medicine Use During Pregnancy

A pregnant woman being given information about 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. Read the full articleexternal icon.

Main Findings

  • There is a lack of informational materials on medicine use during pregnancy for women. Women reported that they want more specific information about potential harm from medicines to their developing baby.
  • Women and healthcare providers strive to “play it safe” with medicine use during pregnancy. Women, prescribing physicians, and pharmacists have a role in safer medicine use during pregnancy. When prescribing medicine to pregnant women, healthcare providers choose what they perceive as the safest treatment approach for women and their developing babies.
  • Women want to be actively engaged with their healthcare providers in making decisions about taking medicine during pregnancy. Women said they were the ones who began discussions with their healthcare providers about using medicine during pregnancy and that they educated themselves about the risks and benefits of the medicine.

Many women need to take medicine during pregnancy. It is important that women receive clear information from their healthcare providers about medicine risks during pregnancy. It is also important that the information is available to women at the right time in order to promote the safest possible management of their health conditions.

Quotes: Thoughts from Women and Heathcare Providers

About This Study

Researchers conducted interviews with 9 doctors and 5 pharmacists, and focus groups with 48 women who took medicine while pregnant or planning a pregnancy. Researchers conducted detailed follow-up interviews with some of the focus group participants.

Our Work

Treating For Two. Safer Medication Use in Pregnancy.

CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) is working to improve the health of women and babies through its Treating for Two: Safer Medication Use in Pregnancy initiative. Through Treating for Two, CDC is working with its partners, other federal agencies, and the public to:

  • Understand trends in medication use among pregnant women and women of reproductive age and
  • Provide women and healthcare providers with information about the safety or risk of using specific medications during pregnancy.

This information will allow women and their doctors to make informed decisions about treating health conditions during pregnancy.

For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/treatingfortwo.

More Information

Key Findings Reference

Lynch MM, Amoozegar JB, McClure EM, Squiers LB, Broussard CS, Lind JN, Polen KN, Frey MT, Gilboa SM, Biermann J. Improving Safe Use of Medications during Pregnancy: The Roles of Patients, Physicians, and Pharmacists. Qualitative Health Research. 2017.

Page last reviewed: July 16, 2020