Pregnancy: Information sources

Last updated: Tuesday, September 27, 2022

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.

The SPS website has some general advice to help guide your decision-making around the use of medicines in pregnancy. 

SmPCs usually contraindicate or caution against drug use in pregnancy. Manufacturers’ medical information departments may be able to offer more information particularly on very new drugs where published literature is often lacking.

Check the UK Teratology Information Service pregnancy monographs. You can also ring the service for advice too, but make sure you’ve conducted a thorough search of your resources first. Their website for patients (called 'bumps') has lots of helpful information leaflets that correspond to the monographs for professionals.

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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 and is available as a book and online. 

What do the clinical experts say? After an initial search for information, it is often helpful to look for guidelines written by expert clinical bodies (e.g. RCOG). Most guidelines on the management of chronic conditions will include a section on pregnancy. These can often be found via the TRIP database and looking at the guidelines menu.

If you need to search the literature then try Embase first followed by Medline and/or Google Scholar; choose your terms carefully - ask for help if you are unsure.

The MHRA’s Drug Safety Update page may contain additional information relevant to the drug in question; you can filter for updates that are concerned with pregnancy on the left-hand side of the page.

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.