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Obstet Gynecol. 1990 Apr;75(4):594-9.

Potential human teratogenicity of frequently prescribed drugs.

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Department of Medical Genetics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


Published data regarding the human teratogenic potential of 157 drug components that are frequently prescribed to outpatients in the United States were evaluated according to a protocol developed for TERIS, an automated clinical teratology resource. This protocol stipulates that a bibliographic search be performed on each agent, a brief narrative summary of the available teratologic information prepared, and a risk rating assigned. The ratings are determined by consensus of five clinical teratologists, who independently assess the magnitude of teratogenic risk associated with each agent under usual therapeutic conditions as "none," "minimal," "small," "moderate," "high," and "undetermined." Forty-nine percent of the components of these frequently prescribed drugs had insufficient published information available to assess the risk of human teratogenicity. Of the agents that could be rated, the teratogenic risk in usual therapeutic doses was considered to be minimal or less in 92.5%. Many of these agents have also been assigned Pregnancy Categories by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) according to a system designed to provide therapeutic guidance. There was no more agreement than that expected by chance between TERIS ratings and the FDA Pregnancy Categories for 83 agents that were classified according to both systems. We believe that the FDA Pregnancy Categories should not be used to provide counseling regarding the risk of teratogenic effects to women who have taken medication during pregnancy. Such counseling should be based on a more comprehensive evaluation of the teratologic literature and clinical situation, but need not involve consideration of the therapeutic benefit of the agent.

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