pregnant woman on internetFifty per cent of pregnant women in the US use the internet for information on drugs prescribed by their doctor, a US study has found.

Some 80% of respondents felt information about medicines prescribed by their doctors was either conflicting or insufficient. More than a third felt medicine use was one of the biggest risks to avoid during pregnancy. Meanwhile, 34% admitted they would delay treatment for a serious condition until after the baby was born.

This is despite an estimated 1 in 10 American mothers-to-be having a long-term condition that requires medication and around 4 in 10 developing new health problems during their pregnancy.

The survey was part of the US Pregnancy and Medicine Initiative's “Dark to Light” campaign, which is an effort to address the lack of clarity concerning the use of medicine during pregnancy.

These results highlighted the lack of confidence and clarity around the topic of pregnancy and medicine, according to the campaign, in which more than 1,000 women took part.

“In many countries, pregnant women are probably one of the most closely monitored group of people from a health perspective,” said Nicholas Brooke, Executive Director at the Synergist, the charity that runs the initiative.

“But when it comes to getting treatment for a medical condition, they face a complete void of information, and many have to choose between their own health or their baby's.”

Forty percent of women in the US are diagnosed with a medical condition while pregnant, and 40% of pregnant women take prescription medicine at some point during their pregnancy, Brooke said. “Yet our knowledge of the effect of these medicines on the long-term outcomes of the pregnancy on both the mother and the child, and our understanding of the effectiveness of these treatments for a pregnant woman, is extremely limited. This, coupled with a general risk-averse approach to prenatal care, means that pregnant women will often not receive the care they need.”

Caroline De Bie, Program Director of the Pregnancy and Medicine Initiative, said: “There needs to be a shift in our attitude toward pregnancy and medicine. Women with chronic medical conditions do become pregnant. And pregnant women do get diagnosed with medical conditions. It's time the healthcare system stopped ignoring those facts and became proactive in addressing the knowledge gap.”