PREGNANCY RISKS - INTRODUCTION

Pregnant women and their doctors often read about the hazards to the foetus of taking any drug during pregnancy.

The anti-morning sickness tablet, marketed in Australia as Debendox, came under notice because of a court case in America. It must be stressed that this drug had been used widely in Australia for more than 20 years and there is no evidence that it increases the risk of foetal abnormalities.

Just because a woman who has taken a drug during early pregnancy has a child with an abnormality does not prove cause and effect.

Congenital abnormalities occur in one in 40 births and, so, are common.

Because of the costs involved in defending this drug in the courts, the makers have withdrawn it from the market.

Of even more importance is: what should epileptic women do when they become pregnant? Most are taking at least one, sometimes two, drugs to control their epilepsy.

Some recent reports have indicated that there is an increased incidence of foetal abnormalities in the children of these women, particularly the risk of hare lip or cleft palate.

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