Medication use for chronic health conditions by pregnant women attending an Australian maternity hospital

Emilia Sawicki, Kay Stewart, Swee Wong, Laura Leung, Eldho Paul, Johnson George

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86 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Most women use medications at some stage in their pregnancy. Medication nonadherence during pregnancy could be detrimental to both mother and fetus. 

Aims: To study the extent and nature of the use of prescribed medications during pregnancy and factors associated with medication nonadherence. 

Methods: All women ≥18years presenting for their 36th week antenatal visit at the pregnancy clinic of a maternity hospital were invited to complete an anonymous questionnaire that contained 61 items, including the Morisky scale. Factors associated with nonadherence were identified in univariate analysis; factors with P<0.1 were further analysed in a binary logistic regression model. 

Results: The participants (n=819) had a mean age of 30.8±5.3 years. Most participants were born in Australia, lived with a partner, had university education, were nulliparous, carried one fetus and were nonsmokers. Of these participants, 322 (39.3%) reported a chronic health condition during pregnancy, the most common being asthma (104; 12.7%). Two hundred and seventeen (26.5%) were using prescribed medications, which included anti-anaemics (68; 8.3%), medicines for chronic airway conditions (64; 7.8%), vitamins and minerals (59; 7.2%) and anti-diabetics (43; 5.2%). Nonadherence was reported by 107 (59.1%) participants, mainly because of forgetting (79; 43.6%). Factors associated with nonadherence were having asthma (OR 0.26 (95% CI 0.095 - 0.72), P=0.009) and using nonprescription dietary minerals (0.30 (0.10 - 0.87), P=0.027). 

Conclusions: Adherence to prescribed medicines during pregnancy is alarmingly low. Health professionals should be more proactive in promoting adherence and assisting women avoid potential fetal harm because of nonadherence. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-338
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Beliefs
  • Chronic disease
  • Medication adherence
  • Pregnancy
  • Prescription drugs

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