Unless research focuses on a pregnancy-related condition such as labor induction, drugs typically are not studied in pregnant women because of the risk of exposing the woman to an experimental drug and harming the fetus.
Currently there is a significant lack of adequate information on medications that sometimes must be used in pregnancy, such as antibiotics, and drugs to treat seizure disorders, hypertension, and psychiatric conditions. The FDA established the Labeling Task Force in 1996 to ensure pregnancy labeling of medical products is based on sound, scientific information.
Canadian pharmacologists at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, have compiled a listing of common herbs, vitamins and supplements considered to be safe for use during pregnancy based on all available studies. Herbs were placed on a grading system to rate their safety for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Cranberries (for urinary tract infections), echinacea (for colds), garlic (for hypertension) and ginger (for nausea) have all been given an A rating for safety. An A rating means that large well-conducted trials showed no serious adverse effects. On the list of unsafe herbs is parsley, which could increase the chance of miscarriage. Doctors were uncertain how to grade substances like black cohosh which are used to induce labor.
Pregnant women have increased blood volume, which forces the heart and kidneys to work harder. Drugs may be cleared through a pregnant woman's kidneys faster than normal. However, often doctors may err on the side of caution by giving pregnant women a lower dose than for non-pregnant patients in hopes to protect the fetus, while because of the physiological changes that occur in pregnancy, there may be times when pregnant women need a higher dose.
Pregnancy registries have grown over the years. These registries follow women taking a certain drug until their pregnancy ends, allowing researchers to use the results to assess risks to mothers and their babies. Examples are the Antiepileptic Drug Pregnancy Registry run by Massachusetts General Hospital and the Organization of Teratology Information Services' (OTIS) Asthma Medications and Pregnancy Project.
You should read product labels, and discuss all therapies with a qualified healthcare provider. Natural Standard information does not constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Copyright © 2012 by Natural Standard Research Collaboration. All Rights Reserved.