Skip to main content

Advertisement

Log in

Prevalence of Prescription Medication Use Among Non-pregnant Women of Childbearing Age and Pregnant Women in the United States: NHANES, 1999–2006

  • Published:
Maternal and Child Health Journal Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Many prescription medications have limited information regarding safety for use during pregnancy. In order to inform research on safer medication use during pregnancy, we examined prescription medication use among women in the United States. We analyzed data from the 1999–2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to estimate the prevalence of prescription medication use in the past 30 days among pregnant women and non-pregnant women of childbearing age (15–44 years) and to ascertain the most commonly reported prescription medications by women in these groups. We assessed how the most commonly reported medications differed among groups defined by selected demographic characteristics, including age, race/ethnicity, and markers of socioeconomic status. Prescription medication use in the past 30 days was reported by 22 % of pregnant women and 47 % of non-pregnant women of childbearing age. The most commonly reported prescription medications by NHANES participants differed somewhat by pregnancy status; allergy and anti-infective medications were more common among pregnant women, while oral contraceptives were more common among non-pregnant women. Use of prescription medication for asthma and thyroid disorders was reported by both groups. Although prescription medication use in the previous 30 days was less common among pregnant women than non-pregnant women, its use was reported among almost 1 in 4 pregnant women. Many of the most common medications reported were for the treatment of chronic medical conditions. Given the potential impact of medications on the developing fetus, our data underscore the importance of understanding the safety of these medications during pregnancy.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  1. Adam, M. P., Polifka, J. E., & Friedman, J. M. (2011). Evolving knowledge of the teratogenicity of medications in human pregnancy. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part C, Seminars in Medical Genetics, 157(3), 175–182.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Lagoy, C. T., Joshi, N., Cragan, J. D., et al. (2005). Medication use during pregnancy and lactation: An urgent call for public health action. Journal of Women’s Health, 14(2), 104–109.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Lo, W. Y., & Friedman, J. M. (2002). Teratogenicity of recently introduced medications in human pregnancy. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 100(3), 465–473.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Mitchell, A. A. (2003). Systematic identification of drugs that cause birth defects—A new opportunity. The New England Journal of Medicine, 349(26), 2556–2559.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Thorpe, P. G., Gilboa, S. M., Hernandez-Diaz, S., et al. (2013). Medications in the first trimester of pregnancy: Most common exposures and critical gaps in understanding fetal risk. Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, 22(9), 1013–1018.

    PubMed Central  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Artama, M., Gissler, M., Malm, H., et al. (2011). Nationwide register-based surveillance system on drugs and pregnancy in Finland 1996–2006. Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, 20(7), 729–738.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Bakker, M. K., Jentink, J., Vroom, F., et al. (2006). Drug prescription patterns before, during and after pregnancy for chronic, occasional and pregnancy-related drugs in the Netherlands. BJOG, 113(5), 559–568.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Bjorn, A. M., Norgaard, M., Hundborg, H. H., et al. (2011). Use of prescribed drugs among primiparous women: An 11-year population-based study in Denmark. Clinical Epidemiology, 3, 149–156.

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Daw, J. R., Hanley, G. E., Greyson, D. L., et al. (2011). Prescription drug use during pregnancy in developed countries: A systematic review. Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, 20(9), 895–902.

    PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Espnes, M. G., Bjorge, T., & Engeland, A. (2011). Comparison of recorded medication use in the Medical Birth Registry of Norway with prescribed medicines registered in the Norwegian Prescription Database. Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, 20(3), 243–248.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Stephansson, O., Granath, F., Svensson, T., et al. (2011). Drug use during pregnancy in Sweden—Assessed by the Prescribed Drug Register and the Medical Birth Register. Clinical Epidemiology, 3, 43–50.

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Andrade, S. E., Gurwitz, J. H., Davis, R. L., et al. (2004). Prescription drug use in pregnancy. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 191(2), 398–407.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Mitchell, A. A., Gilboa, S. M., Werler, M. M., et al. (2011). Medication use during pregnancy, with particular focus on prescription drugs: 1976–2008. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 205(1), 51e1–51e8.

  14. Werler, M. M., Mitchell, A. A., Hernandez-Diaz, S., et al. (2005). Use of over-the-counter medications during pregnancy. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 193(3 Pt 1), 771–777.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Finer, L. B., & Zolna, M. R. (2014). Shifts in intended and unintended pregnancies in the United States, 2001–2008. American Journal of Public Health, 104(Suppl 1), S43–S48.

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Ayoola, A. B., Nettleman, M. D., Stommel, M., et al. (2010). Time of pregnancy recognition and prenatal care use: A population-based study in the United States. Birth, 37(1), 37–43.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. Sadler, T. W. (2011). Langman’s medical embryology. Baltimore, MD: Wolters Kluwer Health.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Kaufman, D. W., Kelly, J. P., Rosenberg, L., et al. (2002). Recent patterns of medication use in the ambulatory adult population of the United States: The Slone survey. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 287(3), 337–344.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. National Center for Health Statistics. (2012). National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey—NHANES 1999–2000. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/nhanes1999-2000/nhanes99_00.htm. Accessed 31 December 2012.

  20. National Center for Health Statistics. (2012). National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey—NHANES 2001–2002. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/nhanes2001-2002/nhanes01_02.htm. Accessed 31 December 2012.

  21. National Center for Health Statistics. (2012). National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey—NHANES 2003–2004. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/nhanes2003-2004/nhanes03_04.htm. Accessed 31 December 2012.

  22. National Center for Health Statistics. (2012). National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey—NHANES 2005–2006. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/nhanes2005-2006/nhanes05_06.htm. Accessed 31 December 2012.

  23. Mirel, L. B., Curtin, L. R., Gahche, J., et al. (2009). Characteristics of pregnant women from the 2001–2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. JSM, 2592–2602.

  24. Mitchell, A. A. (2005). Studies of drug-induced birth defects. In B. L. Strom (Ed.), Pharmacoepidemiology. New York, NY: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Curtin, L. R., Mohadjer, L. K., Dohrmann, S. M., et al. (2012). The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey: Sample design, 1999–2006. Vital and Heatlh Statistics, 2(155), 24.

  26. National Center for Health Statistics. (2013). National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey: 1999–2000 data documentation, codebook, and frequencies—Demographic variables and sample weights (DEMO). http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/nhanes1999-2000/DEMO.htm. Accessed 30 August 2013.

  27. Mosher, W. D., & Jones, J. (2010). Use of contraception in the United States: 1982–2008. Vital and Health Statistics Series 23, Data from the National Survey of Family Growth, 29, 1.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  28. Einarson, A., Selby, P., & Koren, G. (2001). Abrupt discontinuation of psychotropic drugs during pregnancy: Fear of teratogenic risk and impact of counselling. Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience: JPN, 26(1), 44–48.

    PubMed Central  CAS  Google Scholar 

  29. Matsui, D. (2012). Adherence with drug therapy in pregnancy. Obstetrics and Gynecology International, 2012, 796590.

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. Olesen, C., Sondergaard, C., Thrane, N., et al. (2001). Do pregnant women report use of dispensed medications? Epidemiology, 12(5), 497–501.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Morgan, M. A., Cragan, J. D., Goldenberg, R. L., et al. (2010). Management of prescription and nonprescription drug use during pregnancy. Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine, 23(8), 813–819.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  32. Gu, Q., Dillon, C. F., & Burt, V. L. (2010). Prescription drug use continues to increase: U.S. prescription drug data for 2007–2008. NCHS Data Brief, 42, 1–8.

  33. Salganicoff, A., Ranji, U. R., & Wyn, R. (2005). Women and health care: A national profile: Key findings from the Kaiser women’s health survey. Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

  34. Mack, K. A., Jones, C. M., & Paulozzi, L. J. (2013). Vital Signs: Overdoses of prescription opioid pain relievers and other drugs among women—United States, 1999–2010. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 62(26), 537–542.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Desai, R. J., Hernandez-Diaz, S., Bateman, B. T., et al. (2014). Increase in prescription opioid use during pregnancy among Medicaid-enrolled women. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 123(5), 997–1002.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. Sauber-Schatz, E. K., Mack, K. A., Diekman, S. T., et al. (2013). Associations between pain clinic density and distributions of opioid pain relievers, drug-related deaths, hospitalizations, emergency department visits, and neonatal abstinence syndrome in Florida. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 133(1), 161–166.

  37. Williams, B. (2013). Drug-dependent at birth: Neonatal abstinence syndrome in Tennessee. Tennessee Medicine : Journal of the Tennessee Medical Association, 106(3), 22–26.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Broussard, C. S., Rasmussen, S. A., Reefhuis, J., et al. (2011). Maternal treatment with opioid analgesics and risk for birth defects. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 204(4):314e1–314e11.

  39. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). National diabetes fact sheet: National estimates and general information on diabetes and prediabetes in the United States, 2011. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  40. Kwon, H. L., Belanger, K., & Bracken, M. B. (2003). Asthma prevalence among pregnant and childbearing-aged women in the United States: estimates from national health surveys. Annals of Epidemiology, 13(5), 317–324.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  41. Allan, W. C., Haddow, J. E., Palomaki, G. E., et al. (2000). Maternal thyroid deficiency and pregnancy complications: Implications for population screening. Journal of Medical Screening, 7(3), 127–130.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  42. Browne, M. L., Rasmussen, S. A., Hoyt, A. T., et al. (2009). Maternal thyroid disease, thyroid medication use, and selected birth defects in the National Birth Defects Prevention Study. Birth Defects Research, Part A: Clinical and Molecular Teratology, 85(7), 621–628.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  43. Mannisto, T., Mendola, P., Grewal, J., et al. (2013). Thyroid diseases and adverse pregnancy outcomes in a contemporary US cohort. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 98(7), 2725–2733.

    Article  PubMed Central  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  44. Mannisto, T., Mendola, P., Reddy, U., et al. (2013). Neonatal outcomes and birth weight in pregnancies complicated by maternal thyroid disease. American Journal of Epidemiology, 178(5), 731–740.

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  45. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2002). ACOG Practice Bulletin. Clinical management guidelines for obstetrician-gynecologists. Number 37, August 2002. (Replaces Practice Bulletin Number 32, November 2001). Thyroid disease in pregnancy. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 100(2), 387–396.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Misra, D. P., Grason, H., & Weisman, C. (2000). An intersection of women’s and perinatal health: The role of chronic conditions. Women’s Health Issues, 10(5), 256–267.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  47. Namazy, J. A., Murphy, V. E., Powell, H., et al. (2013). Effects of asthma severity, exacerbations and oral corticosteroids on perinatal outcomes. The European Respiratory Journal, 41(5), 1082–1090.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  48. Vissenberg, R., van den Boogaard, E., van Wely, M., et al. (2012). Treatment of thyroid disorders before conception and in early pregnancy: A systematic review. Human Reproduction Update, 18(4), 360–373.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  49. Burrow, G. N., Fisher, D. A., & Larsen, P. R. (1994). Maternal and fetal thyroid function. The New England Journal of Medicine, 331(16), 1072–1078.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  50. Frederiksen, M. C. (2001). Physiologic changes in pregnancy and their effect on drug disposition. Seminars in Perinatology, 25(3), 120–123.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  51. Goodrum, L. A., Hankins, G. D., Jermain, D., et al. (2003). Conference report: Complex clinical, legal, and ethical issues of pregnant and postpartum women as subjects in clinical trials. Journal of Women’s Health, 12(9), 857–867.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  52. Dehlendorf, C., Grumbach, K., Vittinghoff, E., et al. (2011). A study of physician recommendations for reversible contraceptive methods using standardized patients. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 43(4), 224–229.

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  53. Ahluwalia, I. B., Mack, K. A., & Mokdad, A. (2005). Report from the CDC. Changes in selected chronic disease-related risks and health conditions for nonpregnant women 18–44 years old BRFSS. Journal of Women’s Health, 14(5), 382–386.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  54. Schiller, J. S., Ward, B. W., Freeman, G., et al. (2013). Early release of selected estimates based on data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey. National Center for Health Statistics, 1–115.

  55. Broussard, C. S., Frey, M. T., Hernandez-Diaz, S., et al. (2014). Developing a systematic approach to safer medication use during pregnancy: Summary of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-convened meeting. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 211(3), 208–214e1.

Download references

Acknowledgments

This work was supported in part by an appointment to the Research Participation Program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education through an interagency agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sarah C. Tinker.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Tinker, S.C., Broussard, C.S., Frey, M.T. et al. Prevalence of Prescription Medication Use Among Non-pregnant Women of Childbearing Age and Pregnant Women in the United States: NHANES, 1999–2006. Matern Child Health J 19, 1097–1106 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-014-1611-z

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-014-1611-z

Keywords

Navigation