Background and aims:
Maternal intake of medications and supplements has changed over time, and it may be related to adverse reproductive outcomes. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the extent of utilization of supplements, medications, and herbs by pregnant women in Palestine and the expected effects.
Pregnant women attending the prenatal clinic at Rafedia Governmental Hospital at Nablus/Palestine were interviewed using a questionnaire containing questions regarding medications intake and disease status. Data obtained from pregnant women were entered and analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 10.
Results: Of the pregnant women attending Rafedia prenatal clinic, 70.2% were village residents, 89.9% of them had no chronic diseases at the time of pregnancy except for anemia which was a common condition. More than half of the pregnant women did take vitamins, iron, and calcium (56.4%, 63.3%, 57.8%, respectively) during pregnancy. Less than fifty percent of the pregnant women took folic acid. Nausea and vomiting were common but most women did not take any medications to treat it. Less than one third of the pregnant women took over the counter (OTC) medications, mainly analgesics, and more than two thirds took prescription only medications (POM), mainly antibiotics. Mean medication intake per pregnant woman was 1.6±0.9. Most of the women who took medications did take only one (44.5%), a lesser percentage took two (30.8%) or more (9.3%) medications. The medications taken belonged to categories B and C, and few belonged to category D. About 45% of pregnant women used herbal medications to treat mainly GIT problems such as upset stomach, diarrhea, and constipation. The majority of pregnant women in this study did not visit a dentist during their pregnancy.
Discussion and Conclusion:
In this study, utilization of OTC, POM, and herbal medications was common among pregnant women. Not all women received supplements, particularly folic acid. The majority of pregnant women were anemic yet they did not take iron as they should. Women and health care providers need to be educated about the importance of supplement intake during pregnancy. Self-medicating or doctors prescriptions of POM, OTC, and herbal medications during pregnancy support the importance of expanding the knowledge about the potential risks and benefits of such treatments.