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Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2009 May;65(5):523-31. doi: 10.1007/s00228-008-0611-6. Epub 2009 Jan 24.

Health care providers' requests to Teratogen Information Services on medication use during pregnancy and lactation.

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  • 1University of Montreal, Montreal, QC, Canada.



Medication use during pregnancy and lactation is prevalent. However, current knowledge of the risks and benefits of medication use during pregnancy and lactation is incomplete as the best available evidence has been obtained from cohort studies of inadvertent exposures and registries. This situation may partly explain health care providers' (HCP) risk perceptions and thus the increasing number of calls to Teratogen Information Services (TIS).


The objectives of this study were (1) to identify the medication classes for which HCP are seeking counseling from the IMAGe center, a Quebec TIS; (2) to identify the medical conditions for which medication classes were used during pregnancy and lactation; (3) to identify and quantify predictors of medication information requests during pregnancy and lactation.


A retrospective analysis of data was conducted within the population served by the IMAGe center, a TIS based at CHU Ste-Justine in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, that serves the French population of Canada. To be included, calls had to be received between January 1, 2004 and April 30, 2007, and the subject of the call had to be directly associated with the exposure, or not, of a pregnant or breastfeeding woman to medication. Multivariate generalized estimating equation (GEE) regression models were performed to identify the predictors of medication requests.


A total of 11, 076 requests regarding medication exposure during pregnancy, 12 055 requests regarding pregnant women before the exposure took place, and 13, 364 requests regarding lactation were included for analyses. Pregnant women were most frequently exposed to antidepressants (17.3), antibiotics (6.3%), and benzodiazepines (5.3%). Prior to drug exposure, the most frequent inquiries by HCP were on antibiotics (11.0%), anti-inflammatory drugs (6.0%), and antiemetics (5.1%). Inquiries concerning lactating women most frequently requested information on the drug classes of antidepressants (10.8%), antibiotics (9.1%), and anti-inflammatory drugs (7.8%). Depressive disorders were an indication of antidepressant, benzodiazepine and antipsychotic exposures reported to IMAGe. Associations were found between medication use and maternal age, previous pregnancies, trimester of pregnancy at the time of the call and lifestyle habits.


The IMAGe received frequent inquiries on antidepressant, antibiotic, and benzodiazepine exposures, with depressive disorders being the most frequently declared indication. Predictors of medication requests were identified among exposed women during pregnancy, and breastfeeding women. These results emphasize the need for effective studies on drug use during pregnancy and lactation and for better knowledge transfer programs.

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