Pregnant women overestimate the risks of taking over-the-counter and prescribed medication, say UK pharmacologists. They need more information on what’s safe and what’s not.

Their research reveals that women often choose not to medicate for common pregnancy-related symptoms such as heartburn and headache.

And many shun treatment for urinary tract infections (UTIs), inadvertently putting their fetus at risk, say the researchers who surveyed more than 1100 women.

Others are suffering unnecessarily, with “a large number” of respondents deliberately avoiding paracetamol despite it being “perfectly safe”.
Half the women said they used the internet for medication information and many relied on pharmacists for advice.

The authors note women’s beliefs about medicines and their potential risk vary considerably.

“This indicates a potential lack of awareness of the appropriateness of medicines, particularly in women experiencing heartburn and UTIs and not treating the condition,” they write. The findings suggest pregnant women need more information on what is appropriate for them to take so that they can treat conditions effectively.

Last Reviewed: 06/06/2016

Reproduced with kind permission from


Women's beliefs about medication use during their pregnancy: a UK perspective.