HEALTH – Taking medication during pregnancy is never trivial and should only be done on the advice of a doctor, a midwife or a pharmacist: a campaign launched this Wednesday, June 2 recalls this message , not sufficiently assimilated by pregnant women.
“Pregnant, drugs, it’s not just any old way!”, Warns the slogan of this campaign, declined through educational videos on social networks, 140,000 posters sent to health professionals, inserts in the magazine press, interviews with experts or a partnership with YouTuber doctor Corentin Lacroix (WhyDoc).
“The aim is to trigger in society a reflex equivalent to that of alcohol and tobacco during pregnancy,” explains the National Medicines Safety Agency (ANSM), at the initiative of the campaign.
While nearly 7 in 10 women say they are fully informed about the risks associated with alcohol or tobacco consumption during pregnancy, they are only three in ten to say so when taking medication, according to a survey by l institute Viavoice.
In practice, 36% of women pregnant with their first child have taken a drug on their own initiative, a figure which rises to 48% among pregnant women who are not the first pregnancy.
However, “pregnancy is a special period during which the taking of drugs should in general be avoided” because even the most common, such as certain painkillers or anti-nausea drugs, can “have immediate or future repercussions on the unborn child. ”, Explains the ANSM.
The risk of malformations (of organs or limbs) is greatest in the first trimester of pregnancy, especially with medicines containing thalidomide (sedative and anti-nausea), isotretinoin (treatment of severe acne) and valproate ( treatment of epilepsy and bipolar disorders).
“One take may be enough”
Taken later in pregnancy, other drugs such as ibuprofen (anti-inflammatory and pain reliever) or treatments for high blood pressure can slow the growth of the fetus or the proper development of the kidneys. Certain treatments can also be involved in the appearance of developmental disorders (autism, hyperactivity).
“This risk is not 100%, fortunately: it is not because I am going to take a drug that it will have an effect” on the unborn child. But a single dose “can sometimes be enough to generate an effect, including involuntary termination of pregnancy”, specifies Céline Mounier, director of surveillance at the ANSM.
Two to three percent of babies are born with a major malformation and a European study attributes 5% of cases to taking medication by the mother. On a French scale, this would represent 800 to 1,200 births per year out of 800,000.
These dangers also concern products often wrongly perceived as harmless, such as herbal medicines and essential oils, warns the drug gendarme.
Conversely, one in six women who took a prescription drug stopped it without medical advice, mainly because she did not want to take risks for her child, while any stopping or modification of treatment must also be decided on advice. medical, especially for chronic diseases. Thus, “an unbalanced diabetes can have consequences for the woman and the unborn child”, warns Céline Mounier.
The agency wishes to “encourage dialogue” with caregivers from the start of the pregnancy, because some drugs produce effects for several months and others are risky from the first weeks of pregnancy, at a time when women are still unaware that they are pregnant.
The Viavoice survey was carried out online among women aged 18 to 44 in two waves: in November 2019 with a sample of 1,586 women, then from October 29 to November 9, 2020 with 2,000 women.
In France, information on the risks associated with drugs during pregnancy has been reinforced in the wake of the scandal of Dépakine (valproate), a drug against epilepsy and bipolar disorders whose dangers for the fetus, known for a long time. date, were slow to be reported in the notice.
See also on The HuffPost: Every year, 1 billion euros of drugs are thrown in the trash, reveals Capital