Objective: To determine drug use in Spanish women before pregnancy and from conception to the awareness of pregnancy (early period of pregnancy, EPP), as well as to analyse attitudinal changes when pregnancy was planned or known. Methods: Trained gynaecologists used a structured questionnaire to collect demographic and obstetric characteristics, histories of regular drug taking before pregnancy, attitudes towards drug taking during pregnancy and current drug use in the EPP. Women were interviewed at their first antenatal visit during the first trimester. Results: Two hundred and seventy-two women were included (mean age 29.3 years and 66.3 days of gestation). Before pregnancy, 24% regularly took drugs, 70% of them more than twice a week; a significantly higher frequency was found in those receiving public antenatal care and in those who had had less education in 39% of women, awareness of pregnancy did not change their attitudes towards regular drug use. Among those who decided to suppress their regular drug intake, 58% did so when their pregnancy was confirmed and 42% when they planned it. In women who planned their pregnancy, 30,1% stopped when they tried to become pregnant. However, 62% of all women took drugs during the EPP. In private antenatal care significantly more drugs were taken per patient. By the 168 women 278 compounds were consumed during the EPP: 40% were analgesics (mainly paracetamol and acetylsalicylic acid) and 25% were digestive and metabolic drugs (mainly antacids and laxatives). Drugs were often used more than twice a week, particularly in women receiving public antenatal care and in those who had had less education. Conclusion: Drug taking is common in Spanish women of childbearing age, and many of those in our study did not decide to stop during the EPP. Few women avoid drugs when planning a pregnancy. Therefore, gynaecologists must advise against drug taking in patients who wish to become pregnant and suggest that unnecessary drug use be avoided when the pregnancy is already diagnosed.
- Drug use