Herb, Supplement Use Up Among Pregnant Women

In 2012, top five herbs and supplements include fish oil, melatonin, pro- and prebiotics, acai, cranberry
In 2012, top five herbs and supplements include fish oil, melatonin, pro- and prebiotics, acai, cranberry

HealthDay News — From 2002 to 2012 there was an increase in herb and supplement use among pregnant women, according to a research letter published in the February issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Scott Chung, from Penn State University in Hershey, and colleagues examined the prevalence and trend of herb and supplement use among U.S. pregnant women and non-pregnant women of reproductive age (18 to 40 years) over a 10-year period. The authors used data from supplementary questionnaires regarding complementary and alternative medicine use included in the National Health Interview Survey. Data were obtained for 2002, 2007, and 2012. 

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The researchers found that 13.6% of pregnant women and 20.4% of non-pregnant women reported using herbs and supplements in 2002. In 2007, the prevalence increased to 16.7% in pregnant women and decreased to 16.2% in non-pregnant women. In 2012, the prevalence decreased to 15.4% for pregnant women and 15.9% in non-pregnant women. Among pregnant women, the top five most frequently used herbs and supplements were echinacea, ginseng, ragweed or chamomile, ginkgo biloba, and peppermint in 2002, while in 2012, they were fish oil, melatonin, probiotics or prebiotics, acai, and cranberry.

"Knowledge of herb and supplement use is necessary to better equip physicians to help counsel their pregnant patients on integrating herbs and supplements safely throughout their pregnancy," the authors write.

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