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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2010 May;202(5):443.e1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2009.10.865. Epub 2009 Dec 29.

Herbal use before and during pregnancy.

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  • 1Epidemic Intelligence Service, Office of Workforce and Career Development, Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.



We estimated the prevalence and patterns of herbal use among US women before and during pregnancy.


The National Birth Defects Prevention Study is an ongoing, population-based, case-control study. This analysis included 4239 women from 10 centers in the United States who delivered infants without major birth defects from 1998-2004.


The prevalence of reported herbal use 3 months before or during pregnancy was 10.9%. During pregnancy, prevalence was 9.4% and was highest in the first trimester. Higher prevalence was associated with age greater than 30 years and education greater than 12 years. Use varied considerably by state (5-17%). Ginger and ephedra were the most commonly reported products early in pregnancy; teas and chamomile were most commonly reported throughout pregnancy.


Potentially 395,000 US births annually involve antenatal exposure to herbal products. Health care providers should inquire routinely about herbal use and educate patients about what little is known regarding risks of these products.

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