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J Eval Clin Pract. 2019 Jul 12. doi: 10.1111/jep.13228. [Epub ahead of print]

Prevalence and characteristics of pregnancy- and lactation-related calls to the National Poison Centre in Belgium: A retrospective analysis of calls from 2012 to 2017.

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Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences, Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapy, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.
Hospitaal Centrum van de basis Koningin Astrid, National Poison Centre, Brussel, Belgium.
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital Gasthuisberg, Leuven, Belgium.
Department of Development and Regeneration, Women and Child, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.
Department of Development and Regeneration, Woman and Child, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.
Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, Erasmus MC - Sophia Children's Hospital, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.



In the absence of a Teratology Information Service in Belgium, the National Poison Centre might act as a substitute centre for answering pregnancy- and lactation-related questions regarding medication use. The aim of this study was to define the prevalence and characteristics of pregnancy- and lactation-related calls to the National Poison Centre in Belgium, as well as the type of health products involved during these calls.


A retrospective, descriptive study on pregnancy- and lactation-related calls involving health products received by the Belgian Poison Centre between January 2012 and December 2017 was performed. Health products were categorized as registered medicines or non-registered health products; medicines were further classified according to the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical classification system.


The Poison Centre annually received about 361 calls related to pregnancy and lactation. Pregnant and lactating women mainly called the Poison Centre themselves in case of exposure, while relatives were the predominant type of caller when preventive information was requested. The Poison Centre was mostly contacted for information about medicines and especially for preventive questions during lactation. Many questions involved over-the-counter medicines such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. Given the safety issues related to some involved products (eg, ibuprofen, zolpidem, benzodiazepines, and pseudoephedrine), seeking for advice was justified.


The Belgian Poison Centre received almost daily calls from patients and health care professionals on medication exposure during pregnancy and lactation. These findings underline the importance of evidence-based counselling of pregnant and lactating women and should encourage health care professionals to engage themselves more actively when counselling on the rational use of medicines during pregnancy and lactation. The findings also contribute to the ongoing discussion to establish a Teratology Information Service in Belgium.


Belgium; drug utilization; lactation; pharmacovigilance; poison control centres; pregnancy


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