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Women taking potentially teratogenic drugs may be missing out on contraceptive counselling, say researchers from the US. In an analysis including nearly half a million women of childbearing age, one in six were prescribed a potentially teratogenic drug in 2001. For almost half of these women, the researchers could find no documentary evidence of counselling, prescriptions for contraceptives, or sterilisation despite a thorough search through healthcare databases recording prescriptions, outpatient visits, and hospital admissions. One percent of women prescribed a teratogenic drug were pregnant within three months. Women who used reliable contraception were the least likely to get pregnant. Antibiotics, benzodiazepines, and psychiatric drugs were the most common potentially harmful drugs prescribed to the women in this study.
These authors say their data sources were limited and they could have underestimated the extent of contraceptive advice available. They would certainly have missed any women using condoms, which don't need a prescription. But it is still likely that many women are inadequately informed about the risks of an unintended pregnancy during treatment with many commonly used drugs.