Non-prescription medications use among pregnant women

Ali Jaber Al Faifi

National Guard Program, Riyadh

Background: Non-prescription medications play an important role in the treatment of minor health complaints. But they can be potentially harmful especially during pregnancy. Therefore, it is essential to know how and why these medications are used by pregnant women, to make sure it is matching their needs and safety.

Objectives: To explore the prevalence and factors associated with the use of non-prescription medications among pregnant women visiting Antenatal care and Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB-GYN) clinics in National Guard Health Affairs (NGHA)-Riyadh.

Subjects and Methods: A cross-sectional study included a representative sample of pregnant women who presented to Antenatal care and Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB-GYN) clinics in National Guard Health Affairs (NGHA)-Riyadh between November 2015 – March 2016. A structured Arabic validated questionnaire was used for data collection. It included participants’ demographics, obstetric history, current pregnancy history and questions to test their knowledge and attitude about using non-prescription medications during pregnancy

Results: The study included 300 pregnant women. Almost two-thirds of them (68.3%) aged between 26 and 35 years. History of taking non-prescribed medications during the current pregnancy was reported by 51 women (17%). More than half of these drugs were analgesics/anti-flu drugs (52.9%) and antibiotics (31.4%). The majority of them did not consult their physicians before using these drugs (49; 96.1%). Women with 1-3 children (p=0.007), those with history of chronic medical illness (p<0.001), those with history of abortion (p=0.002), those who didn`t visit antenatal care clinics regularly (p<0.001) were more likely to use non-prescribed medications than their counterparts.

Conclusions: A considerable proportion of pregnant women reported a history of taking non-prescribed medications during pregnancy. The most common reasons for using these medications were had no enough time to visit a physician, and thinking that the condition is not so serious to necessitate physician`s visit.

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