Over-the-Counter Medication Use, Perceived Safety, and Decision-Making Behaviors in Pregnant Women

  • Katie L. Kline
  • Sarah M. Westberg
Keywords: pregnancy, over-the-counter medication, nonprescription, medication use in pregnancy, herbal, vitamin, survey


The purpose of this study was to determine which over-the-counter (OTC) medications women are using during pregnancy, and to assess patients' perceived safety of these medications. In addition, the decision-making process utilized by pregnant women when choosing OTC drug therapy was explored, including sources of information and recommendation.

The subjects included pregnant women 18 years and older. Subjects were solicited as a convenience sample by providing surveys in two urban women's clinic waiting rooms. Of the 61 respondents, 96.3% had used an OTC medication, herbal, or vitamin during their current pregnancy. The most common products included prenatal vitamins, acetaminophen, cough drops, antacids, calcium, vitamin D, and DHA. The majority of women surveyed regarded over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and herbals as "safe, but would talk to a healthcare professional before using." The most utilized sources of drug information during pregnancy were a physician (68.9%), midwife (55.7%), and the Internet (44.3%). There were an equal number of respondents obtaining general OTC information from a pharmacist as from their family and friends (26.2%).

Almost all subjects had used an over-the-counter medication during their pregnancy and the majority considered OTCs safe after first consulting a healthcare professional. Although a high percentage of subjects have obtained their information and recommendations from healthcare professionals, a very small proportion of subjects had utilized a pharmacist as a resource. Being drug experts and easily accessible members of the healthcare team, pharmacists have a responsibility to aid the obstetric population in the appropriate and safe use of over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and herbals during pregnancy.

Type: Student Project

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Published: 2011-01-01
Practice-Based Research