Studies - General Research

Half of Women Using Prescription Drugs That Harm Unborn Children Get Abortion (BJOG, 2009)

 

Half of Women Using Prescription Drugs That Harm Unborn Children Get Abortion
 New research out of Canada shows that half of women who use prescription drugs that harm their unborn children ultimately wind up having an abortion. The statistics is so high that the lead author of the new study says the numbers left him shocked and surprised.

Anick Berard of the University of Montreal headed the new study that examined data from the Quebec Pregnancy Registry on 109,344 women between the ages of 15 and 45.

They study found 6,871 pregnant women consumed one of 11 prescription drugs known to be harmful to their unborn child during either the first, second or third trimester of pregnancy.

Of those women, 3,229, or nearly 47 percent, had an abortion, 6 percent miscarried and 8.2 percent of the women gave birth to who a baby with major congenital malformations resulting from the use of the harmful drugs.

"I never expected such results and I was extremely surprised," Berard said in a statement about the new research.

“If there are 80,000 births in Quebec per year, a one percent difference translates into an additional 800 children born with serious malformations,” she said.

The results make it appear more educational work needs to be done to show women how certain drugs are harmful if taken during pregnancy.

Berard, currently a visiting professor at the Universite Claude Bernard in Lyon, France, said she is concerned there are 11,400 prescriptions for dangerous medicines to treat acne, anxiety and epilepsy that increase the risk of malformations by 30 percent yet are freely available without proper risk management.

The study’s researchers also found that 11,400 prescriptions for dangerous drugs such as isotretinoin (for treatment of acne and rosacea), anxiolytic benzodiazepines (anti-anxiety treatment), and antiepileptics (for epileptic seizures) were taken by women during pregnancy. Other drugs that can harm the baby, including those for hypertension and infections, were also widely used.

Berard discovered that, of the 73 pregnant women who used isotretinoin in Quebec, 78 percent got an abortion. Use of isotretinoin increases the risk of birth defects by 30 percent.

Some drugs, Berard said, may be overused — such as benzodiazepine to treat symptoms of anxiety — but anti-epileptics may be necessary.

"In those cases, the pregnancy must be carefully planned and medication use must be at a strict minimum during the first trimester," Berard stressed. "And the expectant mother must meet with her physician regularly."

The results of the new study also show some women may approach their pregnancy with a cavalier attitude or may plan to have an abortion — making it so concerns about the effect of the drug on the unborn child don't matter because the baby will be killed before birth.

At least 3.3 million children younger than 5 years of age die each year because of serious birth defects, and an estimated 3.2 million of those who survive may be physical or mentally disabled for life.

The findings are published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.


[20Nov09, http://www.lifenews.com/int1386.html, Montreal, Canada, www.LifeNews.com]