Prenatal drug exposure and teratological risk: one-year experience of an Italian Teratology Information Service
Marco De Santis, Elena Cesari, Maria Serena Ligato, Elena Nobili, Gianluca Straface, Annafranca Cavaliere, Alessandro Caruso
Med Sci Monit 2008; 14(2): PH1-8
Available online: 2008-01-29
Concern about exposure to drugs, radiation, or infection during pregnancy occur often because pregnancy is not always planned. A teratology information service offers rapid scientific counseling to all those worried about prenatal exposure. The aim of this study is to present data on the most common pharmaceutical products responsible for teratogenic risk in the one-year experience of a teratology information service in Italy.
Material and Method: The survey was conducted among 8664 callers who contacted our Teratology Information Service in Rome between January and December 2006. Data on maternal age, gravidity, parity, maternal health status, and details of exposure (dose and timing) were collected and stored in a specific data base. Scientific counseling on prenatal exposure was given to the caller by a specialized service operator, specifying the type of risk and suggesting appropriate tests for prenatal diagnosis.
Results: Most of the people called regarding drug exposure; increased risk was present in only 5% of the pregnant women calling during pregnancy. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the first category that are actually considered of increased risk to the fetus. The second category is represented by antiepileptic drugs.
Conclusions: This experience confirms previous data that there is a high teratological risk perception among both women and physicians. The drugs estimated to present increased risk are medications used for chronic neurological diseases, mainly mood disorders and epilepsy. Preconceptional counseling for these women could be an effective strategy to prevent such exposure and to improve maternal and fetal outcome.
Keywords: Teratology - statistics & numerical data, Teratogens - toxicity, Risk Factors, Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors - adverse effects, Maternal Exposure, Pregnancy, Public Health, Italy, Lithium Compounds - adverse effects, Information Services - statistics & numerical data, Infant, Newborn, Counseling, Antithyroid Agents - adverse effects, Anticonvulsants - adverse effects