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Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2002 Dec;23(12):1169-72.

Are herbal medicinal products less teratogenic than Western pharmaceutical products.

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  • 1Department of Prenatal Diagnosis and Counselling, Tsan Yuk Hospital, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China. leungky1@ha.org.hk



To determine the use and teratogenicity of herbal medicinal products (HMP).


A retrospective study was conducted in a University hospital to compare the difference in the pattern of use and fetal outcomes between pregnant women who took HMP and Western pharmaceutical products (WPP).


From 1995 Jan to 2001 Dec, 61 and 372 women took HMP and WPP one month before or during their current pregnancies respectively. There was an increase in the prevalence of pregnant women who took HMP from 0 % in 1995 to 0.8 % in 2001. Among HMP users, 51.6 %, 82.8 % and 58.6 % of them had low monthly family income (<15 000), low education level (secondary education or below) and were unemployed respectively. In comparison to WPP, pregnant women used smaller number of HMP (1.4 vs 3.0, P < 0.01) at a later gestation (4.8 weeks vs 3.1 weeks, P <0.01) and within a shorter duration (11.1 d vs 47.9 d, P < 0.01). The prevalence of congenital fetal abnormalities in the group of women who took HMP (3.3 %) was not significantly higher than that who took WPP (0.8 %). There were no and two abnormal fetal karyotypes in the former and latter group respectively. No and ten women in the former and latter group underwent termination of pregnancy for anxiety respectively. The proportions of silent miscarriage in the former and latter group were similar (6.6 % vs 5.4 %).


Pregnant users of HMP were from lower socio-economical status. There was no significant difference in the teratogenicity between HMP and WPP.

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