Pregnancy: Information sources

Last updated: Sunday, July 12, 2015

An obvious point perhaps, but ensure that the information you use is relevant to the trimester you have been asked about. A great deal of information in this field relates to the first trimester, which is interesting but not relevant if you’ve been asked about exposure in the later stages of pregnancy.

Check the UK Teratology Information Service pregnancy monographs for which you will need your organisation’s user name and password to access the complete documents. You can ring the service for advice too, but make sure you’ve conducted a thorough search of your resources first. There is an online guide to the information that UKTIS will require when you ring them. Their website for patients (called 'bumps') has lots of helpful information leaflets that correspond to the monographs for professionals.

What do the experts say? After an initial search for information, it is often helpful to look for guidelines written by expert clinical bodies. Most guidelines on the management of chronic conditions will include a section on pregnancy. These can often be found via NICE Evidence Search, limiting your search to 'guidance'.

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Depending upon the nature of the question asked, try Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation by Briggs et al which is kept by most MI centres. Although the book is available online and in a paper format, updates are only issued online. Another well-respected resource is Drugs During Pregnancy and Lactation by Schaefer et al which is available in paper form and electronically, and many MI centres have access.

UKMi has published a number of Medicines Q&As for a range of common problems in pregnancy. These are published on the SPS website.

If you need to search the literature then try Embase first followed by Medline; choose your terms carefully.

SPCs usually contraindicate drug use in pregnancy yet occasionally helpful information is given. Manufacturers’ Medical Information Departments may be able to offer more information particularly on very new drugs where published literature is often lacking.

For enquiries relating to specific therapeutic areas such as depression in pregnancy, then specialist resources in that field such as Bazire’s Psychotropic Drug Directory or The Maudsley Hospital Prescribing Guidelines may be helpful.

Be careful about conducting a general internet search on this subject. If you do, you may like to look at our brief guide to evaluating websites about medicines.

Presenting your answer 

Once you’ve asked sufficient questions, gathered the information required and assessed it, you’ll need to provide an answer. As a reminder, we offer some general guidance on answering clinical problems. You might like to refresh your memory if you’ve not looked at this recently.