Neonatal Formulary: Drug Use in Pregnancy and the First Year by Edmund Hey

By Edmund Hey

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Attitudes change over time. Opium and laudanum were widely used by the middle classes in Europe and North America in the 19th century. Opium was even added to many infant ‘soothing syrups’. Now it has been estimated that, when no legal source is available, the average UK addict gets through £20,000 worth of heroin a year. Diet may become inadequate, and alcohol intake may rise. Judgmental attitudes can deter addicts from seeking help until problems escalate. Users may seem to have neglected their condition when the health services have actually, by their attitude, effectively excluded them from care.

A flexible prescription (see above) can often be more appropriate. Medication on discharge: Hospitals in the UK generally instruct staff not to issue a prescription for more of any drug then the minimum needed to continue treatment until such time as the family can get a further prescription from their general practitioner unless, as with a small minority of drugs used in the neonatal period, the drug is only obtainable from a hospital pharmacy. It should not, in other circumstances, be necessary to dispense more than 2 week’s treatment.

Id=400 Drug use during pregnancy For a useful alphabetical list summarising how most drugs commonly used in pregnancy are classified by the American Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) see this welldesigned Californian Perinatology Network website. One particularly useful feature of the site is the way you can, with one more click, undertake a full Medline literature search. This site also provides some information on drug use during lactation. There is a Swedish data base that assesses the link between birth defects and drug taking in pregnancy.

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