Drug consumption during pregnancy is a matter of concern, especially regarding drugs known or suspected to be teratogens. Little is known about drug use in pregnant women in Italy. The present study is aimed at examining the prevalence, and to detect potential inappropriateness of drug prescribing among pregnant women in Latium, a region of central Italy.
This retrospective study was conducted on a cohort of women aged 18-45 years who delivered between 2008 and 2012 in public hospitals. Women were enrolled through the Regional Birth Register. After linking the regional Health Information Systems and the Regional Drug Claims Register, women’s clinical data and prescribed medications were analyzed. Italian Medicine Agency (AIFA) and US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) evidence were used to investigate inappropriate prescribing and teratogenic risk.
Excluding vitamins and minerals, 80.6% (n = 153,079) of the women were prescribed at least one drug during pregnancy, with an average of 4.6 medications per pregnancy. Drugs for blood and hematopoietic organs were the most commonly prescribed (53.0%,), followed by anti-infectives for systemic use (50.7%). Among the inappropriate prescriptions, progestogen supplementation was given in 20.1% of pregnancies; teratogen drugs were prescribed in 0.8%, mostly angiotensin co-enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs) and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) (0.3%).
In Latium, drugs are widely used in pregnancy. Prescriptions of inappropriate drugs are observed in more than a fifth of pregnancies, and teratogens are still used, despite their known risk. Continuous updates of information provided to practitioners and an increased availability of information to women might reduce inappropriate prescribing.