I was pretty much a purist when it came to my pregnancy. I avoided caffeine and off-limit cheeses, and I swapped my regular shampoo with one of those natural ones from Whole Foods. I even remember looking up mercury levels before consuming any fish I ate while my baby girl was cooking in my belly. Yep, I was that pregnant girl. So imagine my fear when I ran a fever during my first trimester and had no choice but to take some Tylenol to bring down my temperature.
A study published today in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology shows that most expectant mothers may not be as medication-adverse as I was. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health and Boston University’s Slone Epidemiology Center surveyed more than 30,000 women and found that first-trimester use of prescription medication has increased by more than 60 percent over the last three decades.
Among the other findings, according to a release:
- During the first trimester of pregnancy 70-80 percent of women reported taking at least one medication.
- Antidepressant use during the first trimester increased dramatically.
- Medication use increased with a woman's age and education level.
- Use was higher among non-Hispanic white women compared with women of other races or ethnicities that were studied.
- Use during pregnancy varied by state of residence.
Lead author Allen A. Mitchell, MD, said the study shows that more research is necessary on the risks and safety of these medications. "Not only is it critical to identify how many OTC and prescription medications are taken by pregnant women and what those specific medications are, but it is also important to know how use of medications changes over time," he said.