Utilisation of a NSW Teratology Information Service by pharmacists and patients referred by a pharmacist from 2000 – 2018

Helen Ritchie, Bandana Saini, Michael Twigg, Debra Kennedy

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Background: MotherSafe is a free telephone counselling service for exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding. As the last health professional seen prior to consumption of medicines, community pharmacists’ opinions on the use of medications in pregnancy/breastfeeding is likely to be particularly sought by women presenting in pharmacies. However, a recent qualitative study revealed that community pharmacists feel unsupported in their role as medicine information providers to pregnant/breastfeeding women. Aim: The aim of the current study was to undertake a descriptive analysis of calls made by pharmacists or pharmacist-referred patients to MotherSafe across the time period 2000–2018. Materials and Methods: A retrospective, descriptive study was conducted of call data from January 2000 to December 2018. Aggregate data were examined by type of caller, reason for call, pregnancy category and exposure type. Results: Most calls (57%) related to pregnancy or breastfeeding (39%) with calls equally distributed throughout gestation. Calls regarding potential pregnancy exposures to uncategorised drugs were the most frequent (mainly complementary medicines). Unlike pharmacists, calls from pregnant consumers referred by pharmacists were also frequently regarding category A drugs. Conclusions: This study highlights the need for reliable evidence-based information sources regarding the use of prescribed medications, over-the-counter and complementary preparations during pregnancy and breastfeeding. There is a need for better education of pharmacists about appropriate information sources and the need to use evidence-based resources other than the A-X categories to advise their clients about the safety or otherwise of medications in pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-418
Number of pages7
JournalThe Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Issue number3
Early online date3 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • breastfeeding
  • community pharmacist
  • pregnancy
  • telephone counselling service
  • teratology information

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