Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Prospective survey of use of therapeutic drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes during pregnancy.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986; 292 doi: (Published 11 January 1986) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1986;292:81
  1. P C Rubin,
  2. G F Craig,
  3. K Gavin,
  4. D Sumner


    Use of drugs during pregnancy was recorded prospectively in 2765 women attending the antenatal clinics of a general hospital from October 1982 to March 1984. Of these women, 2588 (93.6%) avoided exposure to drugs during the first trimester, 1802 (65.2%) took no drugs at any stage, 963 (34.8%) took a total of 154 different drugs from 35 groups of drugs, and 243 (8.8%) took a self administered drug. The most commonly used drugs were non-narcotic analgesics, usually self administered, and antibacterials. The last survey of use of drugs in pregnancy in the United Kingdom 20 years ago showed fewer women avoiding drugs throughout pregnancy (195 of 911 (21.4%), p less than 0.001) and in taking a self administered drug (586 (64.4%), p less than 0.001) than at present. Most women nowadays abstain totally from alcohol (1786 (64.6%) v 109 (12.0%) previously, p less than 0.001), but while more women are non-smokers compared with previously (1811 (65.5%) v 392 (43%), p less than 0.001) the trend has been far less dramatic than that for use of alcohol.