Doctors are going against drug company warnings by handing out pharmaceuticals to pregnant women that can cause a miscarriage or stillbirth. Around 5 per cent of mothers-to-be are being given unsafe anti-hypertensives to lower blood pressure, a practice that has increased by around 30 per cent in the last few years.
The drugs can cause poor growth, kidney problems and even death in the child – as every doctor is warned by the drug company and drug regulators. Despite the warnings, doctors have written out around 30 per cent more prescriptions to pregnant women between 2000 and 2006. Around 48,500 women in the US alone were given a prescription for a dangerous drug when they were pregnant, new research has discovered. Antihypertensive prescriptions to pregnant women have increased from 3.5 per cent to 4.9 per cent during the six years of the study.
In all, around 5 per cent of expectant mothers have been handed an antihypertensive to help lower their blood pressure, and often during the second and third trimester, when the greatest harm to the growing fetus can occur.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School say that only a couple of drugs, including methyldopa and labetalol, have been proven to be safe for pregnant women to take.
(Source: Hypertension, 2012; 60: 913-20).