The thalidomide disaster of the early 1960s left thousands of babies with deformed limbs because their mothers innocently took a sleeping pill thought to be safe during pregnancy
In its well-publicized wake, countless pregnant women avoided all medications, fearing that any drug they took could jeopardize their babies’ development.
I was terrified in December 1968 when, during the first weeks of my pregnancy, I developed double pneumonia and was treated with antibioticsand codeine. Before swallowing a single dose, I called my obstetrician, who told me to take what was prescribed, “reassuring” me that if I died of pneumonia I wouldn’t have a baby at all.
In the decades that followed, pregnancy-related hazards were linked to many medicinal substances: prescription and over-the-counter drugs and herbal remedies, as well as abused drugs and even some vitamins.
Now, however, the latest findings about drug use during pregnancy have ignited new concerns among experts who monitor the effects of medications on the developing fetus and pregnancy itself.
During the last 30 years, use of prescription drugs during the first trimester of pregnancy, when fetal organs are forming, has grown by more than 60 percent.
About 90 percent of pregnant women take at least one medication, and 70 percent take at least one prescription drug, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention……….