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Few Women Counseled About Teratogenic Medications

Only half are counseled by their providers to use contraception when taking the medication

TUESDAY, Sept. 18 (HealthDay News) -- One in six women of reproductive age fills a prescription for a potentially teratogenic medication each year, yet only half receive contraceptive counseling from their health care providers, according to a report in the Sept. 18 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Eleanor Bimla Schwarz, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues analyzed prescriptions filled by 488,175 women of reproductive age enrolled with a managed care plan during 2001.

One in six women filled prescriptions labeled class D or X by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which are associated with increased risk for birth defects. Women filling those prescriptions were similar to other women in the rate of contraceptive counseling, filling of contraceptive prescriptions, or sterilization (48 percent for class D or X versus 51 percent for class A or B). The likelihood of pregnancy among women filling class D or X prescriptions was slightly lower than among women filling class A or B prescription (1.0 percent versus 1.4 percent).

"Given that women of reproductive age commonly fill prescriptions for class D or X medications and half of the pregnancies in the United States are unintended, efforts to ensure the safe use of these medications are needed," the authors conclude.

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