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Women's Use and Self-Prescription of Herbal Medicine during Pregnancy: An Examination of 1,835 Pregnant Women

  • Jane Frawley
    Correspondence
    Correspondence to: Ms. Jane Frawley, MClinSc, Faculty of Health, Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (ARCCIM), University of Technology Sydney, Level 7, Building 10, 235-253 Jones Street, Ultimo NSW 2006, Australia. Phone: +61 2 9514 4821; fax: +61 295144835.
    Affiliations
    Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (ARCCIM), Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia
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  • Jon Adams
    Affiliations
    Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (ARCCIM), Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia
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  • Amie Steel
    Affiliations
    Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (ARCCIM), Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia

    Office of Research, Endeavour College of Natural Health, Brisbane, Australia
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  • Alex Broom
    Affiliations
    School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
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  • Cindy Gallois
    Affiliations
    School of Psychology, Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
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  • David Sibbritt
    Affiliations
    Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (ARCCIM), Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia
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Published:April 30, 2015DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.whi.2015.03.001

      Abstract

      Background

      Recent research points to high levels of herbal medicine use during pregnancy. The objectives of this study were to elucidate the prevalence and understand the determinants of both the use and self-prescription of herbal medicine during pregnancy.

      Methods

      The study sample was obtained via the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health. Women who were pregnant or who had recently given were invited to complete a subsurvey in 2010 about pregnancy, and complementary and alternative medicine use.

      Findings

      A response rate of 79.2% (n = 1,835) was attained and 34.4% (n = 588 of 1,835) of the sample were utilizing herbal medicine during pregnancy, of which 77.9% (n = 458 of 588) were self-prescribing these products. The women in our study (aged 33–38) were more likely to use herbal medicine if they had anxiety (odds ratio [OR], 1.30; 95% CI, 1.02–1.64; p = .031), sleeping problems (OR, 1.55; 95% CI, 1.15–2.11; p = .005), or fatigue (OR, 1.32; 95% CI, 1.04–1.68; p = .025), but less likely to use herbal medicine if they had nausea (OR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.56–0.91; p = .007). Women were more likely to self-prescribe herbal medicine if they suffered from varicose veins (OR, 2.46; 95% CI, 1.04–5.84; p = .041) and less likely to self-prescribe herbal medicine if they suffered from preeclampsia (OR, 0.23; 95% CI, 0.81–0.63; p = .005). Women who self-prescribed herbal medicine during pregnancy were also more likely to live in a rural environment (OR, 2.22; 95% CI, 1.32–3.73; p = .003).

      Conclusions

      Many Australian women are consuming herbal medicine during pregnancy. The self-prescription of herbal medicine by pregnant women is of particular concern owing to potential safety issues, and it is important that maternity health care providers have an open and nonjudgmental conversation with women about herbal medicine use during pregnancy.
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      Biography

      Jane Frawley, MClinSc, is a doctoral candidate whose research interests include women's health, pregnancy care, complementary medicine, health care decisions, and attitudes toward health care.

      Biography

      Jon Adams, PhD, is Professor of Public Health. His research interests include complementary medicine, integrative medicine, and the sociology of health and illness.

      Biography

      Amie Steel, PhD, has research interests in pregnancy care and complementary medicine.

      Biography

      Alex Broom, PhD, has research interests that include sociology of health and illness, focusing on cancer, palliative care and complementary medicine.

      Biography

      Cindy Gallois, PhD, has research interests that include health communication, intercultural communication, intergroup communication, and health care quality and safety.

      Biography

      David Sibbritt, PhD, has research interests that include complementary and alternative medicine, and integrative medicine.