edication use during pregnancy is a big black box.
Four million women give birth in the U.S. each year. Many of them take medications while pregnant. But researchers rarely test drugs on pregnant women out of fear of harming them or their developing fetuses.
And because pregnancy changes the body in profound ways, standard doses might not work for pregnant women, even if the medication is safe. Take the digestive system, for example. Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy can affect how drugs are absorbed. The stomach digests more slowly in pregnancy, and the uterus presses on the digestive system. When you swallow a pill, it’s designed to get to a specific spot in your digestive system at a specific concentration at a specific time. Pregnancy slows things up so much that the drug might miss that sweet spot.
STAT explores how the body changes during pregnancy — and how those changes might impact how medications work — in a new video.