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For Release: Jan. 19, 2011
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
(405) 271-5601

Check with Your Doctor Before Using Medications During Pregnancy

Women of childbearing age should talk with a doctor about which medications are safe to take while pregnant, according to public health officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health. The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is joining over 350 members of the National Birth Defects Prevention Network to share this message of caution with women of childbearing age. Medication use during pregnancy is common with two out of every three women taking prescription medications during pregnancy.

“Women of childbearing age should discuss any medications they are using, whether prescription or over-the-counter, with a doctor,” says Oklahoma Birth Defects Registry Coordinator Kay Pearson. “Though many women know that certain prescription medications can cause birth defects, they may not be aware that some dietary supplements and herbal remedies may also harm a developing baby.”

Not all medications should be discontinued during pregnancy; some may need to be changed or adjusted. Medical conditions such as diabetes, influenza, and asthma need to be managed during pregnancy and may harm both mother and baby if left untreated. In some cases, doctors may need to weigh the benefits of a medication against the potentially harmful effects.

A baby’s organs, such as the heart, brain, and spine, begin developing in the first few weeks, before a woman may realize she is pregnant. For that reason, it is important for women to have conversations with their health care providers about medications before pregnancy.

“Every woman should take a multivitamin with 400 mcg of folic acid daily, starting before pregnancy, to improve the likelihood of delivering a healthy baby. Pregnant women should also eat a healthy diet, avoid alcohol, and get a flu shot,” said Pearson.

The National Birth Defects Prevention Network has members from all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico. The Network collects and distributes information about birth defects and their prevention, encourages research, and provides technical support to state and local birth defects monitoring programs.

To learn more about the Network, visit www.nbdpn.org . The Oklahoma Birth Defects Registry is a member of the Network and works to reduce the prevalence of birth defects through prevention education and monitoring trends.  For additional information, contact Kay Pearson at (405) 271-6617 or kayp@health.ok.gov, or visit http://obdr.health.ok.gov.

To learn more about having healthy babies, view the “Preparing for a Lifetime, It’s Everyone’s Responsibility” public education campaign on the OSDH Web site at http://iio.health.ok.gov.

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