Who we help - Pregnant mothers
Maternal exposure to a toxin or an overdose can pose a serious risk to the baby's development. Through the UK Teratology Information Service (UKTIS), NPIS provides advice and support to professional colleagues on drug and chemical exposure during pregnancy. In 2014/15 it handled over 440,000 enquiries of this nature, both on and offline.
The most frequent enquiry to UKTIS in 2009/10 concerned zanamivir, an antiviral used in the treatment of H1N1 influenza (swine flu) in pregnancy. As well as providing advice on swine flu infection and treatment in pregnancy during the 2009 pandemic, UKTIS also assisted by collecting epidemiological data.
In 2011/12, five of the top ten most frequent enquiries to the service were regarding antidepressants, with the two most common being the serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) - citalopram and sertraline. The prevalence of antidepressant-related enquiries reflects both their high level of use and recent publications concerning their safety during pregnancy. Enquiries relating to vitamin D were also in the top 15 most frequent enquiries this year, reflecting the high level of coverage the topic received in the media.
In 2012/13, enquiries relating to antidepressant and antipsychotic medication use in pregnancy continued to be the most common type, with these agents comprising seven the the ten enquiries most frequently made to the service. Citalopram and fluoxetine were those most commonly involved. Therapeutic use of medicines during pregnancy comprises the largest enquiry category (88.6% of enquiries).
In 2013/14 and 2014/15, half of all enquiries received by UKTIS related to a drug or chemical exposure that had already occurred in a pregnant woman. Most (87% in 2013/14 and 88.4% in 2014/15) enquiries related to the therapeutic use of medicines during pregnancy. Enquiries relating to antidepressant and antipsychotic medication use in pregnancy continued to be the most common type.
In April 2014 UKTIS developed a public facing website, 'bumps' - best use of medicines in pregnancy (www.medicinesinpregnancy.org). Here information is consistent with that in UKTIS scientific monographs but summarised in a format suitable for members of the public. There is also a secure online 'my bump's record' to enable pregnant women to provide annoymised information about themselves, their pregnancy and any pregnancy exposures to help women in the future.
Information from the NPIS Annual Report 2014/15.