Pregnancy is a time when most people are aware that women need to cut out smoking and drinking. They need to “eat for two,” not in terms of quantity but for quality. But what are a young woman’s choices when she needs to take a prescription drug?
Many young women take prescription medicine daily for ever-more common issues such as ADHD, diabetes, mood stabilizers, epilepsy and more. Many of them will consult with their doctors about what to do when they want to become pregnant. However, doctors too often don’t have the answer. Many drugs have never been tested for safety with pregnant women. The New York Times (“Too Many Pills in Pregnancy Feb. 26, 2013) reported that 90% of pregnant women take at least one medication and 70% take at least one prescription drug. This stands in stark contrast to the high public awareness of the risks of smoking or drinking for pregnant women Pregnant women must be educated about the unknown risks of taking medicine during pregnancy.
Just as worrisome are over-the-counter and homeopathic remedies. They also have not been tested for safety for pregnant women, in the main. However, many women — many consumers — mistakenly believe that over-the counter drugs are safe and that homeopathic remedies are benign because they are perceived to be natural.
When I was told the facts of life, my mother told me that the placental barrier acts like a filter to protect the fetus from alcohol or medicines. We now know that is not true. To my mother’s everlasting regret we found it out because her doctor gave her DES. What may seem benign now, even doctor recommended, may not seem so in 15 years. Please, a fetus is tiny and delicate. Let’s treat them like that.