WASHINGTON - Nearly every woman takes a medication at some point during pregnancy. Yet there's disturbingly little easy-to-understand information about which drugs pose a risk to her baby, and what to do about it.
Need some pain relief? In the fine print is the warning that painkillers like Advil aren't for the third trimester. Left unsaid is whether to worry if you took them earlier.
An awful cold? Don't panic if you used decongestant pills, but doctors advise a nasal spray in early pregnancy.
A new study shows how difficult that information is to come by.
Researchers examined 25 pregnancy-related websites and found no two lists of purportedly safe drugs were identical. Twenty-two products called safe on one site were deemed risky on another.
Specialists couldn't find evidence to back up safety claims for 40 percent of the drugs listed, said Cheryl Broussard of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who led the study.
The CDC says medication use during the first trimester - especially vulnerable for birth defects because fetal organs are forming - has jumped 60 percent in the last three decades. Plus, women increasingly are postponing pregnancy until their 30s, even 40s, more time to develop a chronic health condition before they're expecting.
The CDC is beginning a Treating for Two program to explore how to get better information, and the FDA plans to revamp prescription drug labels with more details on what's known now.